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!”

Friday, August 14, 2009

Obama States Case for Health Care Reform

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
In the middle of a vigorous national debate over health care, President Barack Obama decided to visit Portsmouth, N. H. to state his case for reform and hear from people on the matter. Dubbed a Town Hall Meeting by the White House, President Obama arrived at Portsmouth High School at 1p.m. on Tuesday to discuss his hopes and plans for national health care reform.
Packed inside the PHS gymnasium awaiting the president were 1,800 people, most of who secured the free tickets through the online lottery held by the White House. Outside PHS, hundreds of people lined the length of the driveway, including many groups who either supported or opposed the president’s ideas for health care reform.
Excitement filled the gymnasium. After a testimonial given by a woman named Lori about her inability to secure health care coverage due to her medical condition, President Obama took the stage to an enthusiastic standing ovation.
President Obama began by outlining the basics of his health care reform proposals. “Under the reform we’re proposing, insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history,” he said. “Period. They will not be able to drop your coverage if you get sick. They will not be able to water down your coverage when you need it. Your health insurance should be there for you when it counts, not just when you’re paying premiums, but when you actually get sick. And it will be when we pass this plan.”
After outlining his proposals for about fifteen minutes, the president moved on to the question-and-answer part of the meeting. Before taking the first question, the president referenced the contentious nature of some other town hall meetings that have recently taken place in the country. “Now, before I start taking questions, let me just say there’s been a long and vigorous debate about this (health care), and that’s how it should be, he said. “That’s what America is about, is we have a vigorous debate. That’s why we have a democracy. But I do hope that we will talk with each other and not over each other, because one of the objectives of democracy and debate is, is that we start refining our own views because maybe other people have different perspectives, things we didn’t think of.”
The president took nine questions over almost an hour span. Jackie Millet from Wells was able to ask her question about Medicare benefits. Ben Hershinson, another Maine resident, asked his question about universal health care: “Good afternoon, Mr. President. My name is Ben Hershinson. I’m from Ogunquit, Maine, and also Florida. And I’m a Republican -- I don’t know what I’m doing here, but I’m here.”
President Obama made repeated requests for questions from those who were skeptical of his reform proposals. Responding to a question about bipartisan support, the president said: “Now, I think that there are some of my Republican friends on Capitol Hill who are sincerely trying to figure out if they can find a health care bill that works -- Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Olympia Snowe from Maine.” After a round of applause for Senator Snowe, the president acknowledged, “Yes, I got to admit I like Olympia, too.”
Local elected officials in attendance for the town hall meeting were Governors John Baldacci and John Lynch from Maine and New Hampshire, Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Congressman Paul Hodes and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, both of New Hampshire.
President Obama wrapped up the meeting around 2:15 p.m.: “If you don’t have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you do have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.”
Measuring the odds for his success, the president concluded “I am confident we can do it, but I’m going to need your help, New Hampshire.”
Photo caption: President Obama responds to a question at Tuesday’s health care forum in Portsmouth. (Devin Beliveau photo)

Tall Ships Visit Seacoast

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
Tens of thousands of people were drawn to the Seacoast last weekend to see, admire and/or tour tall ships. The Piscataqua Maritime Commission sponsored the festival, hailed as one the biggest events in port history.
It all began Friday morning when people lined both sides of the Piscataqua River to see the ships, the USCGC Eagle, the Spirit of South Carolina, the Spirit of Massachusetts, and Delaware’s Kalmar Nyckel arrive.
They were welcomed to the harbor by a flotilla of small boats that accompanied them to their berths at the docks of the New Hampshire Department of Ports and Harbors, off Market Street Extension in Portsmouth.
Saturday and Sunday saw long lines as people from throughout New England stood in line for lengthy periods to tour the ships. Scheduled rides on the ships were cancelled due to tricky currents.
The Eagle, a 1800-ton steel hull, three-masted sailing ship with more than 21,000 square feet of sail and more than five miles of rigging, left the area Monday morning followed by the other ships.
Eagle is the only active commissioned sailing ship in the United States Military, and is home ported at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Originally known as the Horst Wessel, it was a training vessel for German Naval cadets in the 1930s before being captured by the United States. It carries a crew of six officers and 48 enlisted men and women.
Kalmar Nyckel has served as an outreach platform for the State of Delaware since 1998.
The Spirit of South Carolina descends from a line of swift, able schooners that served the coastal and harbor pilots along the southeast coast from the mid 1700’s to the early 1900’s.
The Spirit of Massachusetts is based on the design of the Fredonia, a famous Massachusetts schooner of the late 20th century. She was commissioned at Boston in June 1984, and works as a sail training ship for Boston’s New England Historic Seaport, a unique school under canvas.
The Piscataqua Maritime Commission is a non-profit community organization dedicated to promoting awareness and education of the New Hampshire seacoast’s rich maritime history through Tall Ship port calls.
Proceeds from ship tours and marketing fund a variety of sail training scholarships for area students and other educational programs.
Photo caption: The USCG Eagle leaving port Monday morning after a weekend stay in Portsmouth. (Larry Favinger photo)

Goodall Hospital Enters Agreement
to Become MaineHealth Member

Goodall Hospital, an acute-care hospital based in Sanford has entered an agreement to become a member of the MaineHealth system. MaineHealth, a not-for-profit integrated healthcare system, is the parent organization of Maine Medical Center, Southern Maine Medical Center and several other hospitals and healthcare organizations. The agreement was unanimously approved by the board of directors of each organization.
The Goodall Hospital board of trustees developed an exploratory committee several months ago to analyze options for the hospital’s future and concluded that membership in the MaineHealth system would protect the accessibility and quality of healthcare in the area of York County it serves. Merilee Mapes Perkins, chair of the Goodall Hospital board of trustees explained, “We did our homework and decided that MaineHealth was the best option for the hospital and our community.”
With the downturn in the economy and healthcare reform on the horizon, many independent hospitals are in merger discussions. “The changing landscape of government reimbursement, skyrocketing costs, increasing regulation and a drive to improve quality is paving the way for many small hospitals to seek membership in larger systems,” said Darlene Stromstad, president and CEO of Goodall Hospital.
Goodall Hospital’s membership in the MaineHealth system, which will make MaineHealth the parent organization of the hospital, will allow Goodall to strategically partner with MaineHealth and its members to improve healthcare in York County. “Membership will help Goodall improve its delivery of care to patients, realize efficiencies and cost savings, and ensure healthcare remains available in the area of York County it serves,” said Bill Caron, Jr., president of MaineHealth.
“By coordinating resources and collaborating on healthcare delivery, we’ll be able to deploy resources more effectively,” added Stromstad. “MaineHealth’s access to technology and specialists will help our hospital to more fully develop quality healthcare models. We’re thrilled to be bringing the resources of Maine’s premier health system to our community.”
“We’re excited about the opportunity this membership addition to MaineHealth presents,” stated Ed McGeachey, president and CEO of Southern Maine Medical Center. “It allows us to broaden our efforts for a rational and appropriate healthcare services planning approach for the York County regions we collectively serve.”
As MaineHealth and Goodall Hospital begin the due diligence process, they will simultaneously prepare an application to the State of Maine for a Certificate of Need and request an antitrust review. The merger may be completed by the end of 2009.
Goodall Hospital has a history of collaborating with members and affiliates of the MaineHealth system, including development of the Cancer Care Center of York County, a joint partnership with Southern Maine Medical Center and Maine Medical Center. Membership in MaineHealth allows Goodall to plan for York County’s community healthcare needs in conjunction with Southern Maine Medical Center.
MaineHealth is a not-for-profit family of leading, high-quality providers and other healthcare organizations working together so their communities are the healthiest in America. Ranked among the nation’s top 100 integrated healthcare delivery networks, MaineHealth’s member organizations include Maine Medical Center, Miles Memorial Hospital, St. Andrews Hospital & Healthcare Center, Southern Maine Medical Center, Stephens Memorial Hospital, Waldo County General Hospital, Spring Harbor Hospital, HomeHealth Visiting Nurses, Maine Physician Hospital Organization, NorDx and Synernet. Affiliates of MaineHealth include MaineGeneral Medical Center, Mid Coast Hospital, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center and Penobscot Bay Medical Center.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Vital Partnership:
Laudholm Trust and the Wells Reserve

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
During the past school year, it was common to see students from the Wells Ogunquit Community School District gathering at the Wells Reserve for after school programs. If Laudholm Trust President Diana Joyner has her way, that trend is likely to continue in the future. Involving the Trust and the Wells Reserve more deeply in the surrounding communities is one of Joyner’s principal goals.
“We need to begin to build a new group of stewards who will be passionate about taking care of the world around us,” Joyner said. “We want to teach young people and young adults what it means to protect the natural resources of coastal Maine, about clean water, vistas, and agricultural uses, abut things that are happening in the estuary, storms and runoff and their impact.”
One of the first steps in doing that was to reach out to the Wells Ogunquit Community School District. Joyner and Suzanne Eder, the Reserve’s Education Director, did that last fall.
“We got together with (Wells Junior High Principal) Chris Chessie and (WOCSD Assistant Superintendent) Ira Waltz,” Joyner said. “They were as excited as I am about the possibilities. Now we have a curricula here in the summer geared from first grade to high school. Chris is the head of science in the entire district. We hosted (the district’s science team) here. Now we have an idea from teachers in each grade for next year.”
The collaboration started with a pilot project for seventh and eighth graders. “We did five different weekly programs,” said Eder. “We looked at things like bird banding, bee keeping, soil and composting. It’s been wonderful Next year we’ll continue it. We’ve also worked with the school on wellness and suggested ways to integrate wellness activities and the Reserve into the curriculum.”
Joyner’s strategy is not limited to the school district, but to the entire surrounding communities. She said the goal is to make Laudholm Farm more visible. “A key strategy of the board is to heighten visibility of Laudholm Farm,” said Joyner. “It’s been a well kept secret for 26 years.”
Part of that visibility is educating the public on the relationship between the Trust and the Wells Reserve, as well as the variety of programs and activities that the Reserve conducts routinely.
“Laudholm Trust was formed first to raise money for maintaining this place and doing programming at the Wells Reserve,” said Joyner. “The Reserve relies on the Trust to raise matching dollars. The Trust is the only one of 27 reserves across the country that is not part of state government. We’re a 501-c-3; the Reserve is a quasi-state agency. We’re the most unique partnership.”
It’s also important to make people aware of the Reserve’s operation and how it benefits the community. “Behind the scenes, the staff at the Reserve is collecting real data about the environment,” Joyner said. “We help the state, town and community planners understand the resources in their community. The Reserve helped Sanford put together a program to understand its resources. We have GIS to create maps to assist in planning for economic development. I’m trying to advocate about the tools we have here.”
Joyner noted that the music festival at Laudholm Farm on Aug. 2 was another example of outreach to younger members of the community. “I realized quickly that I needed to understand better how to communicate with younger people,” she said. “We formed a committee of younger adults. It’s called Next Gen. The music festival was their idea. I’m getting great direction from this group.”
Joyner has barely been on the job for a year but also has plans for expanding the programming offered into the winter months, to benefit people that live in the area year round. There are also a couple of road races coming up. It’s all targeted at getting out the word about Laudholm Farm as a community resource. “For me it’s important to get back to our roots - the Kennebunks, Wells, Ogunquit, York, and the Berwicks,” she said. “And re-engage with them.”
Photo caption: From left to right are Wells Reserve Education Director Suzanne Eder, WOCSD Assistant Superintendent Ira Waltz, Laudholm Trust President Diana Joyner and Wells Junior High School Principal Chris Chessie. Behind them is a portion of the historic barn at Laudholm. (Reg Bennett photo)

Miles for Max,
Cycling for a Good Cause

Max Palmer is a handsome 4 year old boy and the grandson of Janet and Jim Bither of Kennebunk. At 18 months he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer that strikes the central nervous system and the adrenal gland. Max has received extensive treatment for the past 33 months at Children’s Hospital Boston and the Jimmy Fund Clinic.
Since Kennebunk is one of Max’s favorite places, it was decided to hold a bike ride here on August 29th. The idea for the ride came from Mike and Janet Weston, friends of Max’s grandparents.
It is a beautiful ride throughout the Kennebunks and its glorious coast. Enjoy beautiful Goose Rocks Beach, Cape Porpoise, the back roads of Kennebunkport, Kennebunk Beach and Walker’s Point as you ride for this worthy cause. The ride begins and ends at the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust. The ride will include 10, 20 and 40-mile segments. All proceeds from the ride will go to pediatric cancer research at Children’s Hospital Boston.
We would like riders of all abilities and ages. Everyone who rides receives a free Miles for Max tee shirt and a post ride cookout lunch. Check out our website, register to ride, meet Max, be a sponsor, and take a look at our silent auction items.
Photo caption: Miles for Max, a charity bike ride to benefit the Jimmy Fund Clinic in Boston, is on Aug. 29 in Kennebunk. Pictured is Max, four years old. (Courtesy photo)

Public Safety Day for Seniors at Kittery Estates

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
When it comes to safety preparedness, many senior citizens in the Kittery area are now a well-informed group. This is due in large part to the Senior Citizens’ Public Safety Day that was held on Aug. 1st at Kittery Estates independent living retirement community.
Senior citizens from Kittery and several surrounding towns were invited to visit Kittery Estates for a day of safety tips, booths run by public safety officials, and even a full-fledged pig roast. The goal of the day was “to make seniors aware of what’s available to them in Kittery, and to help them become familiar with different services, such as the police and paramedics,” said Kittery Estates Manager Susan Rydza.
Safety organizations present on Saturday included the Kittery Police Department (KPD), Kittery Fire Department (KFD), York County Emergency Services, and the York County Elder Abuse Task Force. Civic organizations such as the Kittery Rotary Club and the Kittery Lions also set up booths to talk to local seniors.
Swing and jazz music played outside as seniors mulled about the various booths, with a pig roasting on a spit in the background. Kittery Estates Executive Chef Todd Sweet had been up since 3a.m. preparing for this large luncheon, which was free for all area seniors.
Also hosting a table was the Kittery Police Benevolent Association (KPBA). “I’m a big proponent of community partnerships,” said Officer Brian Cummer, President of the KPBA. “Kittery Estates has been excellent. The Kittery Police Department has had meetings over here, and we’ve even had a spaghetti dinner.”
The KPD wanted to “reach out to the elderly because they’re victimized a lot more than the average person. Computer crimes and frauds are especially tricky and complicated, so what we’re going to do here is provide them with some information and pamphlets,” Cummer explained.
Tickets were sold throughout the event for a 50/50 raffle to benefit the KPBA. “What we do with the money is turn it around and give it back to the community,” said Cummer. “Just last week the Kittery Recreation Department came up a little short for one of their events, and we’re going to provide them with money to help out.”
KFD volunteer firefighter Toby Bowden saw the day as “a chance for us to get out when it’s not an emergency, and let people see what we do, interact with us and get to know us. It helps when we’re actually at an emergency if someone can see friendly faces that they remember.” Standing next to a KFD fire truck, Bowden commented “we also have some fire safety brochures and stickers for the kids.”
In addition to the free lunch, coffee, and ice cream, Susan Ryzda added, “we’re also handing out these “File of Life” magnets. When services come to help seniors, this should be posted on their refrigerator. It has their medications, their wishes, what they need, surgeries they’ve had, allergies, etc. Paramedics know to look for this. It’s an important piece of equipment that can help save lives.”
Kittery Estates residents and non-residents alike turned out on this sunny day to see what the event was all about. “We heard about this and decided we better go down and see what’s going on,” said Alan Brackett, a local senior who does not live at Kittery Estates. “It sounded like something special, and I wanted to see what was going on,” said Kittery Estates resident Helen Miedema. “Plus, they have wonderful meals.”
For more information, contact Kittery Estates at 438-9111.
Photo caption: Senior citizens talk with Kittery Police Officers at the Kittery Police Benevolent Association booth at Kittery Estates’ Senior Citizens Public Safety Day. (Devin Beliveau photo)