Friday, September 26, 2008

Punkinfiddle Returns to Wells Reserve

Punkinfiddle returns to the Laudholm Campus of the Wells Reserve on this Saturday, September 27, and features horse-drawn wagon rides by Rockin’ Horse Stables, Julie Giles’ gentle prize oxen and Mr. Auger’s amazing carvings of giant pumpkins. For more info visit or call 646-4521. (Courtesy photos)

Zonta Club Continues its Commitment to Women in York County

For the 13th consecutive year, Zonta International donated $1,000 to the York County Community College Foundation scholarship fund. The contribution is intended to assist women of York County in acquiring the education needed to improve their occupational and financial situations. Zonta International is a global organization of executives and professionals working together to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy.
The scholarship contribution represents the proceeds from the Zonta Club of York County’s largest fundraiser of the year with the Hackmatack Playhouse. Zonta Club of York County and the Hackmatack Playhouse have partnered in similar efforts for 19 years. “Zonta is always pleased to award this scholarship to deserving students from York County who attend YCCC,” said Sue Seaver, club president.
“Contributions to our scholarship fund help YCCC bridge the widening gap between family income and college costs making a college education accessible to everyone,” says John Rainone, Executive Director of the York County Community College Foundation. “Service-minded organizations like Zonta International have allowed us to increase scholarship awards by 19% over that of the 2006-07 school year.”
Approximately 55 percent of students enrolled at YCCC are at the poverty level and 30 percent of students indicate that they work 30 hours per week or more to meet their educational expenses. Out of the 80 percent of YCCC students who qualify for financial aid, 70 percent take out loans. Generous gifts like these enable the YCCC Foundation to provide vital help students attending York County Community College further their education. Last year, the YCCC Foundation awarded over $31,000 in scholarships to 141 students. Since 1996, the YCCC Foundation has awarded over $137,000 to 506 students.
Caption: Zonta Club of York County’s president, Sue Seaver presents John Rainone with a check for $1000. (Courtesy photo)

Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda Coming to Kennebunk

Watoto means “The Children”, and these children are on a mission. Through their inspirational songs and compelling stories, the Watoto Children’s Choir is spreading a message of hope for Africa’s children.
In 1994, Gary and Marilyn Skinner were moved with compassion concerning the critical orphan crisis in Uganda. As a result, Watoto Child Care Ministries was established as an outreach of Kampala Pentecostal Church. Today, Watoto is caring for over 1500 parentless children by providing physical, emotional, educational and spiritual care.
The goal of Watoto is to raise the next generation of Ugandan leaders by pursuing excellence in academic and practical skills, integrity in conduct and moral values, so that each child becomes a responsible and productive citizen.
Since 1994, the Watoto Children’s Choirs have toured internationally as ambassadors for orphan children in Uganda. “Concerts of Hope” inform people of Watoto’s vital work and afford audiences the opportunity to participate in restoring hope and dignity to some of Africa’s most needy children.
Each child in the choir has experienced tremendous personal tragedy, having lost one or both parents in the African AIDS crisis or other calamities. Now through their music and dance, audiences around the world witness the life-transforming love of God experienced by the children of Watoto.
The choir’s music and multimedia presentation is a soulful fusion of gospel and contemporary African style. Dressed in colorful costume, the children’s enthusiastic song and energetic dance has moved audiences world-wide.
This concert is sponsored by St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Kennebunk; Christ Church, Kennebunk; and So. Congregational Church; Kennebunkport.
For more information please call 207-985-4303.
Caption: The Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda will perform at the Kennebunk Town Hall this Friday with a message of hope for the next generation of Uganda citizens. (Courtesy photo)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Alpaca Open Farm Weekend Showcases Farming Trend

The latest trend in Maine farming is one that would surprise a lot of people – raising alpacas. During the coming weekend the Maine Alpaca Association is kicking off their “Discover Maine … Discover Alpacas” campaign to provide education about alpaca ownership, business planning and to open the doors of Alpaca farms state-wide to Maine residents who are curious about what raising these animals is all about.
The Alpaca is a member of the South American camelid family which includes llamas and the wild guanaco and vicuna from which the llama and alpaca were originally domesticated. Unlike llamas (which were primarily used as pack animals), alpacas have been bred for their cashmere-like fiber, which was once reserved for Incan royalty.
The fact that alpaca fiber is a natural, renewable and a hypo-allergenic material contributes to its popularity, and explains why so many of the local alpaca farms like Lightfoot Farms in Kennebunk, Alpaca Fields in Berwick and Oakhill Alpaca Ranch in Shapleigh are eager to welcome the public during the upcoming Alpaca Open Farm Weekend on Satuday and Sunday, September 27 and 28. Many of the local farms will be offering alpaca yarn and products for sale during the tour days.
The Maine Alpaca Association’s mission is to educate the public about the long-term benefits of owning alpacas and promoting alpaca products in the State of Maine. The MAA calls The Open Farm Weekend on the 27th and 28th “a wonderful opportunity to learn about the burgeoning alpaca business in Maine,” adding that “Alpaca owners come from all walks of life but have at least one thing in common: a fondness for these charming and magnificent animals.” The weekend should allow local residents to connect with their neighbors and to learn about this developing Maine agricultural trend.
For more information about alpacas or for directions to alpaca farms participating in the upcoming Open Farm Weekend please visit
Caption: Alpacas at sunset on a Maine Farm. (Courtesy photo)

The Rain Man Comes to Southern Maine

By Joe Hessert Staff Columnist
“NASA calls him the most prodigious intellectual memory savant in the world,” said Fran Peek of his son, Kim, during a phone interview with The Weekly Sentinel earlier this week. Kim, the man whose life was the basis for Dustin Hoffman’s character in the movie Rain Man, is coming to Kennebunk for an interactive presentation with his audience during which he’ll answer questions and hold a conversation about whatever happens to come up.
“The audience is where things originate,” said Fran. “They can ask him anything.”
And Kim has been asked a lot over the years – he has spoken to over five million people in group lectures and conversations like the one taking place in Kennebunk on Friday and he has been the subject of twenty-two television documentaries. “We’ve traveled a lot together,” said Fran, “Over the last eighteen years we have logged over two million, eighteen thousand air miles, and that doesn’t count all the miles we’ve traveled by car.”
This affinity for numbers is something that is common when speaking to Fran’s son, too. He began the conversation with me by asking my birth-date and then telling me that I was born on a Wednesday – a fact I didn’t know but later checked and turned out to be correct. When I told him I lived in South Berwick, Kim laughed and said that I was the neighbor of a famous writer, Sarah Orne Jewett and proceeded to quote a few lines of her poetry. I told him that I worked at the Weekly Sentinel and he gave me directions to our office in Wells (he has the roadmap for the entire country memorized).
During the conversation Kim laughed a lot, quoting the speech our fellow Mainer, William Cohen, had made after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, talking about Kenneth Roberts’ Northwest Passage and our former governor Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine during the battle of Gettysburg – all knowledge which he acquired at the public library in Salt Lake City where he has devoured and retained almost verbatim books on a wide range of subjects. He can read up to eight books a day, in part because he reads very quickly and also because he reads both pages of a book at the same time, one with each eye.
Speaking with him, though, the fifty-seven year old seemed very down to earth – like an history professor I had in high school whose genuine curiosity for the world we live in was contagious and taught me that who I was and who I would become was the product of the complex environment I was living in. The message in his talk, I was told, would be “one of hope for the promise that lies in each of us, no matter how we are perceived as different from others.” And after speaking with him on the phone I’m eager to attend his upcoming visit to Kennebunk.
Kim’s life and his phenomenal abilities have been documented on the Discovery Channel, YouTube, and through other news mediums. While the program at St. Martha’s Church on Friday is free, a donation of $5 towards the cost of his appearance is welcome. There will be a meet and greet sponsored by Bridges to Integrated Health at St. Martha’s beginning at 5:30pm before the event on Friday the 19th. For more information please call Mari Jo Allen at 467-8212.
Caption: Kim Peek (right), the man whose life story was the model for Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man will be appearing at St. Martha’s Church in Kennebunk at 6:30pm on Friday, September 19. His father Fran stands to the left. (Kelly Roy photo)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Local Investment Banker Serves Global Housing Foundation

By Joe Hessert
Staff Columnist

Mark Zimmer spent years working on Wall Street before moving to South Berwick after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Now he works primarily from his home and in addition to his time spent following the market he is on the board of directors for Global Housing Foundation, a non-government organization which has recently started a joint effort with the UN to provide the opportunity for working poor in third world countries to finance and purchase their own homes.
“There are people working in these countries and all of their money is going to rent for houses that are worse than the ones they’d be living in if they were unemployed and provided housing,” said Mark. “The goal of the Global Housing Foundation is to set up an infrastructure and lending opportunities for these people so that they are encouraged and rewarded for working rather than punished.”
To do that, the Global Housing Foundation has worked with local and international banks to offer interest rates that match the rates of homebuyers in America – half of the interest rate that these people would otherwise be paying for homes. “The goal is to get these people the opportunity to stop spending their money on rent and to start investing it in a home that they can have for the rest of their life,” said Mark. “It will actually cost less for them to buy a home than it would for them to continue paying rent in the slums.”
Most of the work the Global Housing Foundation has done so far has been geared toward Central America, but they are in the process of setting up a European branch of the company and hope to start offering similar programs to working poor in Africa. Mark said that if this program is as successful as he expects, he’d love to look into helping Maine’s struggling workers in a similar way.
“To qualify for the Global Housing Foundation’s program, third world residents need to meet three criteria,” said Mark. “They have to be living in the slums, they have to be working, and the lease has to be in the woman of the house’s name. This is to ensure that if something happens with a marriage falling apart that the children will still have a place to live.”
“There are 1.3 million working poor in the world right now,” said Mark, “The UN set millennium goals in 2000 and by 2010 we hope to have resettled the majority of them in homes that they own and are paying off themselves.”
Asked how it feels to be a member of such an important and exciting global project, Mark said it was amazing. “It’s amazing that you can add value to people’s quality of life on such a broad scale,” he said. For more info on the Global Housing Foundation you can contact Mark by email at:
Caption: Mark Zimmer stands on the patio behind his South Berwick home. (Weekly Sentinel photo)

Conservation Easement Protects 400 Acres of Gerrish Island

Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT), a statewide land conservation organization, today announced the protection of an ecologically significant property on Gerrish Island in Kittery. MCHT was granted a conservation easement on the 400‑acre coastal property, which has been owned by the Delano family for more than 60 years.
The coastline of the protected property extends for approximately three‑quarters of a mile and includes rocky headlands and cobble beaches. Directly behind one of the cobble beaches is a large freshwater marsh providing habitat for migratory birds, including black ducks, green winged teal, and great blue herons.
The conserved land, while not open for public use, offers an exceptional scenic resource for the area.
“Our mother and father shared a deep appreciation for this special place,” said Sara Delano. “My brothers and I were pleased to work with Maine Coast Heritage Trust and its partners to honor our parents’ wish that this property always remain in an unspoiled state.”
“This is one of the largest properties with coastal shore frontage in southern Maine,” said Chris Fichtel, MCHT Project Manager. “With the constant pressure of development in York County, it is gratifying to be able to preserve such an important natural habitat.”
Maine Coast Heritage Trust purchased the conservation easement from the Delano family at a substantial discount from appraised value and received financial assistance from the Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative.
Helen Winebaum, campaign chair for the Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative, expressed her appreciation to the Delanos, saying, “This is an extraordinarily generous gift from the Delano family.”
Gerrish Island forms the southern tip of the State of Maine, bounded on the East and South by the Atlantic Ocean, on the West by Portsmouth Harbor and the Piscataqua River, on the North by Chauncey Creek, and on the Northeast by Cutts Island and the Seapoint Beach conservation area.
Caption: Gerrish Island at Sunset. (Courtesy photo)

Wells Meetinghouse Gets a Facelift

The Historic Wells Meetinghouse recently underwent two major capital improvement projects under the supervision of Dennis Hardy, Co-Chair of the Historical Society of Wells and Ogunquit and Project Manager.
Painters from B& H Painting of Biddeford owned by John McNeil have just finished the job of painting the exterior of the historic 1864 Meetinghouse across from the Hannaford Shopping Plaza on Route 1 in Wells. New wooden shutters, to be installed later this month, are being manufactured by Barry Chase (TheWebhannet Company) of Wells. The shutters (many are originals) had suffered from periodic removal and re-installation due to several paintings, and the effects of salt air and decay.
The Historical Society of Wells and Ogunquit is housed at the Meetinghouse and Vestry and is charged with maintaining the Meetinghouse. Efforts to raise $35,000 for Capital Improvements are underway and $22,000 has been raised so far.
As part of its fund-raising efforts, the Historical Society is planning the second Colors of Fall GALA Dinner & Dance to be held at the “Coastal House” on Saturday October 18, 2008, to the music of Straight Lace. Two couples (one from each of the two towns) are being honored as outstanding citizens: Gary and Diane Leech (Wells) and Peter and Barbara Woodbury (Ogunquit). Tickets, are available at $60 each at the Meetinghouse Museum.
The Meetinghouse is in its third incarnation. Built as the First Parish Meetinghouse in the mid 1600s, it was burned by the Indians, and eventually re-built. In 1864 it was constructed for a third time, in its present New England Civil-War style. In the early and mid-1900 it was the home of the First Congregational Church of Wells.
The Museum and the interior of the Meetinghouse are open to the public, free of charge, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 to 4:30PM. Visitors are always welcome. For more information or tickets to the Fall Gala call 646-4775.
Caption: Rick Samples and Ron Thomas of B & H Painting of Biddeford hard at work painting the Wells Meetinghouse. (Courtesy photo)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Rediscovering Kittery Foreside

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist

Kittery Foreside, the historic downtown, is being “rediscovered” according to Town Manager Jonathan Carter. In light of new businesses opening in the Foreside, the Weekly Sentinel interviewed locals associated with the area’s ongoing development.
“There was a Foreside Development Committee headed by the late Ray Smith in the late 90s and early 2000s – who decided to bring the Foreside back to life,” explained Carter. “They put in wider sidewalks, decorative lights, wooden signage, and promoted the area, and I think the new businesses (Doo Hair Salon & Tulsi Indian Restaurant) can be attributed to that group.”
Lory Pratt, owner of the stationary store Papers, Ink!, which is located in the Foreside, has also seen slow but steady growth during her time there. “It all started with the cafĂ© in 2003 (Chef’s Cove Cafe). I was the only retail store down here, then (Restaurant & Bistro) Anneke Jans came and people really started coming. It brought a lot of attention to the area.” Pratt moved from Portsmouth, NH to Kittery in 1983.
According to Anneke Jans Restaurant Manager Anthony Aiken, “business is very good, very healthy, we’re growing and this summer was very good. I think this area will continue to grow. I think there will be more interesting shops and more reasons to come here.”
Town Manager Carter continued, “I think the Foreside’s a unique area. In the warm weather it’s fun to see people walking from Portsmouth to Kittery, and Kittery to Portsmouth. The area is growing and getting better known. And it’s tying in with the small specialty markets on Rt. 1, and John Paul Jones Park down by Warren’s Lobster House.”
Pratt of Papers, Ink! described the recent “Foreside Stroll,” a successful event designed to give Foreside businesses more exposure. “It was an evening when all the shops had open houses with local artists and musicians too. It was a great turnout in June, a nice evening for people to find us.” Future Foreside Strolls are in the works.
Local Foreside business owners have also recently collaborated on creating a map for pedestrian shoppers. “With Enoteca Italiana Grocery and Loco Coco’s Tacos, there is now sort of a walking loop (connecting the Foreside and Rt. 1 businesses),” Pratt said explaining the project. Considering the future of the Foreside, Pratt mused, “I think a lot of people say that Kittery now is what Portsmouth used to be like. We’re just excited about the new restaurants, and about Christine’s too (women’s clothing store).”
Caption: New businesses and restaurants are setting up shop in Kittery’s historic downtown and business owners have collaborated on a map to draw in pedestrian shoppers. (Weekly Sentinel photo)

Celebrating Sarah Orne Jewett

On Sunday, September 7 join Historic New England in a celebration of Sarah Orne Jewett’s birthday at the Sarah Orne Jewett House in downtown South Berwick.
The afternoon will begin with a walking tour of downtown South Berwick. Imagine what life was like during Sarah’s lifetime by visiting the places Jewett family members knew and frequented. View historic photographs and compare life in downtown South Berwick then and now. The walking tour begins at 1pm in the back yard of the Sarah Orne Jewett house. Walking tour admission is $5 for members, $10 for non-members. Pre-registration is strongly suggested.
Continue the celebration by joining Jewett enthusiasts and community members for an enjoyable afternoon listening to readings of selected works by Jewett that relate to people and scenes of South Berwick. The readings will be followed by tours of the Sarah Orne Jewett House. Refreshments and birthday cake will be served. Celebrating Sarah Orne Jewett takes place from 3-5pm at the Sarah Orne Jewett House. Admission: $5 for members, $10 for non-members. Combine the Sarah Orne Jewett Walking Tour with the Celebrating Sarah Orne Jewett program and save $2 off admission. Pre-registration strongly suggested.
The Jewett House shop will be open during the day’s events, offering a selection of books by and about Jewett plus titles on local history and architecture. For more information about both programs and to pre-register, please call the Historic New England office in South Berwick at 207-384-2454.
Caption: The elegant entrance hall of the Sarah Orne Jewett House in downtown South Berwick. (Courtesy photo)

Wildlife Center Hosts Open House

The public is invited to get a rare, close up view of wild birds, mammals and reptiles at The Center for Wildlife’s annual Open House on Sunday, September 7, from 11:00am to 3:00pm.
The Center for Wildlife (CFW) is northern New England’s largest wildlife rehabilitation facility, treating over 1,500 sick, injured and orphaned wild animals each year. Visitors at the Open House will meet some of the current “residents” of the Center, such as a great horned owl, barred owls, saw-whet owls, eastern screech owl, peregrine falcon, red-tailed and broad-winged hawks, and a wide variety of songbirds, small mammals and turtles.
There will also be engaging activities for all ages, including live releases of rehabilitated birds, animal demonstrations, storytelling with Shawn Middleton, children’s games, nature awareness activities, a raffle and silent auction, food and more.
“People who come to the Open House are thrilled to have the chance to see animals up close that they will probably never get to see in the wild,” says Center for Wildlife Executive Director Karen McElmurry. “It also enables us to inform more people about the unique services the Center offers, as well as raise awareness about how people can live in ways that benefit the wildlife that lives here.”
For the second year in a row, the CFW is teaming up with York County Community Action Corporation to offer free trolley rides to the Open House. “We started offering the trolley ride last year to reduce gas useage, tailpipe emissions and traffic on Mountain Road,” says Steven Corrigan, Chair of the CFW. “But we also found that it provides a fun and relaxing travel experience that kids and families really enjoy.”
Corrigan explained that the trolley reflects the Center’s commitment to using green practices whenever possible. “This year the dinnerware at our food tent will be made of corn-based plastic. We are also planning to install solar collectors in the main building and will have a solar power demonstration at the Open House.”
The event will also feature environmental exhibits provided by Great Works Regional Land Trust, the York Land Trust, Mt. Agamenticus Conservation Program, and White Pine Programs.
Visitors may drive to the Center or take the free trolley shuttle that will leave from the York District Court House, at 11 Chases Pond Road in York. The trolley will leave from the Court House every half hour from 10:45am – 2:15pm, and the last trolley will return from the Center at 3:15. The Center For Wildlife is located at 385 Mountain Road in Cape Neddick, near the entrance to Mt. Agamenticus. For more information, visit or call the Center at 361-1400.
Caption: Barred Owls and many other species of birds, mammals and reptiles will be on view at the Center for Wildlife’s Open House on Sunday, September 7, from 11-3. (Courtesy photo)