Friday, October 30, 2009

Regular Folks Cast Aside Modesty
for Men of York 2010 Calendar

The Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce has produced a humorous calendar that features a diverse group of local businessmen who have agreed to cast aside their modesty to raise funds to benefit non-profit organizations in York. The Men of York 2010 Calendar models range in age from 20 to 70+.
The calendar will be unveiled for the first time publicly on Wednesday, Nov. 18th at the American Legion function hall at Hannaford Plaza in York beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets to attend the Men of York Revealed! event are $35 which includes a calendar ($20 value) or $15 without the calendar. Tickets also include refreshments and a chance to meet the models, view the pictures for the first time, and get autographs of the models. There will be a cash bar featuring special drink deals. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling the chamber at 207-363-4422. This event makes a great “Ladies Night Out” and the calendars will make great gifts for the holidays. Only 1500 calendars will be sold.
The models will be introduced on stage in a humorous show that incorporates music and dancing. Their photos will be simultaneously revealed by calendar month. The photos show men in various stages of undress, often with a “prop” that relates to their business. “These men have really been great sports in the interest of raising funds for charity. The calendar will promote their business and their sense of humor,” said Chamber President Cathy Goodwin. “We’re raising funds and raising eyebrows! It’s all done in good taste, and in reality, the photos show no more than you’d see on a sunny summer day at the beach! It’s all in the imagination.”
Four professional photographers have donated their time and talent to this project including Anne Sweeney, Tim Rotman, Geneve Hoffman, and Shane Corcoran. Examples of their “regular” work will be on display at the Reveal Party along with information about the non-profit organizations that will benefit from the proceeds of the calendar sales. Following the event, calendars will be sold throughout the community at chamber businesses and at the chamber Visitors’ Center on Route 1.
Profits from the calendar sales will be shared with The American Legion, Kiwanis Children’s programs, York Hospital “For Every Patient” Campaign, Think Again, and the chamber’s scholarship fund. These groups will receive $10 of each calendar they sell. The project is being coordinated by the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce, and all expenses are being incurred by The Chamber.
Calendars such as this one have been produced successfully in communities all over the country. They include the Men of Maple Corner in Vermont, the Women of Tamworth in N.H., The Men of Westerly in RI, and the Steel Magnolias in Aiken, South Carolina.
For more information call the chamber at 207-363-4422.

Voters face Seven Statewide
Ballot Questions on Nov. 3

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
On Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, Mainers go to the polls to vote on the seven questions included in the statewide referendum. The following are the seven questions that will be on the ballot, and what voting “yes” or “no” would mean for each of the questions. All information comes from the Maine Secretary of State’s website:
Question 1: People’s Veto
Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?
A “YES” vote would reject the new law and continue to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying.
A “NO” vote would allow the new law to take effect, permitting same-sex couples to marry.
Question 2: Citizen Initiative
Do you want to cut the rate of the municipal excise tax by an average of 55% on motor vehicles less than six years old and exempt hybrid and other alternative-energy and highly fuel-efficient motor vehicles from sales tax and three years of excise tax?
A “YES” vote favors enactment of the initiated legislation.
A “NO” vote opposes enactment of the initiated legislation.
Question 3: Citizen Initiative
Do you want to repeal the 2007 law on school district consolidation and restore the laws previously in effect?
A “YES” vote favors repeal of the 2007 school district consolidation law and its amendments.
A “NO” vote opposes repeal and favors leaving the 2007 school district consolidation law and its amendments in effect.
Question 4: Citizen Initiative
Do you want to change the existing formulas that limit state and local government spending and require voter approval by referendum for spending over those limits and for increases in state taxes?
A “YES” vote favors enactment of the initiated legislation.
A “NO” vote opposes enactment of the initiated legislation.
Question 5: Citizen Initiative
Do you want to change the medical marijuana laws to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to create a regulated system of distribution?
A “YES” vote favors enactment of the initiated legislation.
A “NO” vote opposes enactment of the initiated legislation.
Question 6: Bond Issue
Do you favor a $71,250,000 bond issue for improvements to highways and bridges, airports, public transit facilities, ferry and port facilities, including port and harbor structures, as well as funds for the LifeFlight Foundation that will make the State eligible for over $148,000,000 in federal and other matching funds?
A “YES” vote favors authorizing the $71,250,000 bond issue to finance all of the above activities.
A “NO” vote opposes the bond issue in its entirety.
Question 7: Constitutional Amendment
Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to increase the amount of time that local officials have to certify the signatures on direct initiative petitions?
A “YES” vote favors adoption of this constitutional amendment.
A “NO” vote opposes adoption of this constitutional amendment.

Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story

On Thursday, Nov. 12, the Kennebunk Free Library in conjunction with the Brick Store Museum is proud to present the powerful new documentary Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story which premiered nationwide on Sept. 6 on the Smithsonian Channel. This video explores the Federal Writers’ Project, one of the most controversial public assistance programs of the Great Depression. The screening will take place at 7 p.m. in the Library’s Reading Room located at 112 Main Street. Admission is free and the screening is open to the public. The companion book to the documentary is also available for checkout at the Library.
The 1930s was a time when millions of Americans faced unemployment, vanishing life savings, banks foreclosing on homes and a general loss of hope. However, through government grants for programs such as the Federal Writers’ Project, the Great Depression also created opportunities for thousands of unemployed writers including Richard Wright, Saul Bellow and John Cheever. These writers fanned out across America, interviewing its citizens and producing a portrait of the USA from the ground up in a series of state travel guides. But the Federal Writers’ Project also ignited a storm of controversy when writers portrayed not only the triumphs of America, but also its tragedies.
At its peak, the Project employed over 6,600 people including a handful of published authors, old newspaper reporters, former school teachers and others. Two of its better-known workers, Studs Terkel (in one of his last interviews before passing away in October 2008) and Stetson Kennedy, appear in this documentary. In addition, the documentary features interviews with a diverse group of leading authors, poets, and historians, including Douglas Brinkley and David Bradley, who provide witty and heartbreaking insights into the Project.
Filmed entirely in high definition, Soul of a People”is a Spark Media Production produced for Smithsonian Networks™ with a major funding grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is produced and directed by Andrea Kalin and based on the book, Soul of a People, by David A. Taylor. Taylor also serves as co-producer and co-writer for the documentary. Award winning actress Patricia Clarkson is the narrator.
For more information on this program contact the Library at 207-985-2173 or the Museum at 207-985-4802 or visit or

Wells Voters to decide
on Water Extraction Regulation

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
Voters in Wells will decide on Nov. 3 whether the town will have an ordinance that allows and regulates large scale water extraction in the town. Question 1 includes a proposed regulation that is the product of a year-long process carried out by the town’s Ordinance Review Committee.
The proposed ordinance adds large scale water extraction as a permitted use in the town’s land use code in certain districts in town. It defines large scale water extraction as “extraction of water from ground water sources, aquifers, springs, wells, and similar sources in a total amount on any given day of 20,000 gallons or more.” Such extraction would require a permit. However, the proposed ordinance exempts extraction of water to be used within the town of Wells for “agricultural purposes, drinking water and domestic water supply to private residences and commercial users (that do not sell water for ultimate consumption outside the Town of Wells); water supply for public facilities such as schools within the Town of Wells; fire suppression; or for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes with the Town of Wells.”
The ordinance establishes an application process involving the Planning Board that requires the applicant to, among other things, detail the total maximum daily quantity of water to be extracted; the purpose of the extraction; identify the rates of drawdown and recharge of the aquifer or other ground water sources used, and other potential environmental impacts on the surrounding area; a traffic analysis by a professional engineer in Maine of the expected daily average vehicular trips, peak hour volumes, access at the site and other activities related to moving the water to the place it is ultimately processed; and site plans detailing the area of the extraction, including, but not limited to, the location of extraction points, roads, pipelines, and test and monitoring wells.
The Planning Board would have the ability to approve, deny or approve with conditions any application. Any approval would specify that it be only for extraction up to the maximum daily amount in the application. The approval would be for a period of three years, with renewal possible upon another review. That approval also would be good for three years before another review. An approval would be granted only if the applicant demonstrated that its activity would not cause “unreasonable changes in ground water flow patterns relating to the aquifer, any surface waters within the Town, any ground subsidence beyond the property lines of the applicant’s property, adversely affect the long term sustainability of the aquifer, or create a health risk.” The applicant also would be required to demonstrate an ongoing follow up monitoring system of the operation.
The ordinance includes a clause in which the applicant would agree that it would abide by the codes and ordinances of the town and “at no time rely on any national or international trade agreements, treaties or other instruments of legal means to abridge the rights of the citizens” of Wells.
Finally, the ordinance gives the Board of Selectmen the right to revoke or suspend the extraction permit under certain circumstances.
The debate about the question emanated largely from negotiations in the summer of 2008 between Poland Spring (and its parent corporation Nestle) and the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells Water District to allow the extraction of water for bottling purposes. While no agreement was reached, opponents to large scale water extraction in Wells urged that the town enact a ban on such activity. The town implemented a temporary ban, which has been twice extended, while it determined how best to approach the issue. The proposed ordinance was the approach the town chose to take.
Opponents (those who encourage a “no” vote on Question 1) argue that enacting an ordinance would open the way for a company like Nestle to begin extraction, and that the town would soon lose control of the situation. Ed Pare, a Wells resident who is a member of the group Protect Wells Water, said that the town code should be left unchanged.
“In the code there’s a section for each district with a list of permitted uses,” Pare said. “If (the use) is not listed, it is not permitted in the district. Now, large scale ground water extraction is not a permitted use. For large scale extraction, you must apply to the DEP and also have a permit from the town. Since it is not listed as a permitted use the Planning Board would have to deny a permit.”
Pare said he asked Andrew Fisk, a Bureau Director at DEP what would happen if DEP issued a permit and the town did not. Fisk responded in an email that the two permits “are not related as they are different laws. That does not mean that our permit trumps the town’s denial - so in your example the project could not proceed as it didn’t have all necessary permits. We condition permits to that end.”
Supporters of the ordinance (those who encourage a “yes” vote) argue that a tight regulation offers the town the best protection for its water resources. “The ordinance very clearly allows the town to control the amount of water to be extracted,” said Selectman Jim Spiller. “Great care was taken by the ORC to allow owners to use what is justifiably their’s without taking from anybody else. They’ve largely achieved that goal.”
Spiller disagreed that not having the use listed as permitted in the current regulation would prevent it from happening. He said the enactment of the temporary bans on extraction might have taken that protection away. “Not passing this will not prohibit water extraction,” he said. “Water extraction is a permitted use in the state of Maine. If we turn down the ordinance, it would be easy for an applicant to come in and say they have the right to extract. If or when that occurs, the town would have no regulation whatsoever. DEP regulations are nowhere near as tight as this. To protect itself, the town has to pass this.”

Friday, October 23, 2009

Noble High Students produce
Award Winning Literary Magazine

By Barbara Leech
Staff Columnist
Nobel High School students are gearing up to create, organize and publish this year’s edition of Knight Vision, the school’s award winning literary arts magazine. According to Sarah Hall, Junior English teacher and faculty advisor for the magazine, this is the second year that Knight Vision production, once an after school club activity, is offered as a .5 credit elective course for students Grade 9 through12.
“Last year was the first time Knight Vision was a class and we got a great response from the students,” Hall said. “It is such an overall group effort and really gets students involved in the critiquing and creative process. It was offered both semesters so we produced two editions and won an award of excellence for our work.”
Hall said it was the second year in a row for Knight Vision to win the excellence award in the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) contest for student literary magazines. The annual contest’s mission is to encourage all schools to develop literary magazines, seeking excellence in writing and school-wide participation in production. Hall said that Nobel High students in all grades submitted work that encompassed several different genres. She is hopeful this year’s course, offered spring semester only, will be equally rewarding for the students involved.
“We print about 50 pages in our magazine and it has everything from drawings to photography to poems to written music…it really represents the creativity at this school,” Hall said. “And the selection of work, the layout, the advertising that is sold….it is all done by the students. It is amazing to see it come together.”
Tiffany Currier, 16, was part of last year’s award winning production staff and has enrolled in this year’s Knight Vision course, which begins in January. The North Berwick teen said she chose the course because it appealed to her love of writing and art and magazines in general.
“It was a good match for me,” she said. “I am very glad I did it. It was a fun way to learn and create something at the same time.”
Currier said she is looking forward to the production work, the reading and selection process and may offer her own writing skills to the effort this year.
“I think I have been inspired to maybe submit something,” Currier said. “I love writing and I find that reading memoirs is the most interesting. So I think that may be what I try for. We will see.”
According to Hall, Knight Vision was created several years ago by members of the Nobel High faculty. She began working as its advisor three years ago, and says that last year’s staff consisted of about nine students but she is hoping a few more join the team by enrolling in the course.
“There is a ‘drop-add’ period so there is still time for students to decide to take part in this course,” Hall said. “I think all students that do walk away with more knowledge about what goes into creating a literary arts magazine, editing, design, their own ability to critique work and a sense of pride in the final product.”
Photo caption: Junior Tiffany Currier, North Berwick, is ready to begin production work on the next Knight Vision, an award winning literary arts magazine at Nobel High School. (Courtesy photo)

Professor helps build Psychology Dept.
at Cambodian University

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
For Dr. Cindy Lahar, Department Chair of Biological and Social Sciences at York County Community College, a vacation trip to Cambodia in 2000 literally changed her life. As a result, Lahar got involved with the Royal University of Phnom Penh and has worked with the school since 2004 to help build the capacity of the university’s psychology department, the only such department anywhere in Cambodia.
“It’s the only psych department in the country,” said Lahar. “There is a highly needy population for mental health services, but none are available. The psychology department is being called on to train people.”
Lahar explained that Cambodia’s history is a particularly traumatic one, dating from the brutalities of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, when much of the population was killed. “They targeted educated people.,” she said “Teachers and doctors were the first to be killed so many moved out. Once the country began to rebuild in the 1990s, there were few educated people, but the population sees education as very important.”
Lahar applied for and received a Fulbright Scholarship to go to the country in 2004 and work with RUPP’s psychology department. She got another scholarship in 2006.
“Fulbright’s goal was to train all the teachers there in research methodology,” Lahar said. “I proposed to do training in research methods and to do research into volunteerism, to explore the motivation for volunteering and whether it was different in these cultures. I learned I had to step back and ask a more basic question - what does it mean to be a volunteer and how does someone define volunteerism?”
The second Fulbright involved working with the psychology department as a “teacher, trainer, all around specialist - however they needed me,” Lahar said.
She has returned once or twice a year, along with professionals also from outside of Cambodia, to work with the teachers in the department. Lahar said she has started to see the efforts bear fruit. “We have developed a Master’s program and kicked it off in 2008,” she said. “There are 12 to 14 students in their second year to earn a Master’s in Counseling. There are 15 or so active teachers in the undergraduate program, but only one has a Master’s. The teachers need training to be able to present material to the undergraduate students.”
The goal is to have the program’s graduates accepted as master’s level counselors outside of Cambodia. “There are a lot of Master’s programs in Cambodia, but few are accepted outside the country,” she said. “We need to push them toward international standards in the curriculum.”
Lahar’s next trip to Cambodia begins in January, 2010. She has a sabbatical at YCCC and plans to spend most of the semester working at RUPP. “It’s been an incredible experience,” she said. “Some years I go there and think ‘what more can I do?’ Then I get there and in a few weeks, I’m so busy. Every time I leave there saying ‘boy, I’ve got to get back there soon.’”
Lahar’s work at RUPP has actually resulted in a new organization she formed in Maine, a nonprofit called Reach Out To Education, or ROTE. It’s creation stemmed from the efforts of one of her Cambodian colleagues to keep rural youngsters in school. “One of the teachers in the Psych Department introduced me to a friend who was the first person from his village to graduate from a university,” said Lahar. “He started an organization to help support kids who would drop out to work. It gives money to the family to allow the kids to stay in school.”
Lahar has raised $2,400 in each of the last two years to bring over to that program. She had been getting donations from individuals, but decided to form the organization as a tax-exempt group to formalize things.
Her work has not been overlooked by her YCCC colleagues. “Cindy’s work in Cambodia has enriched our college environment,” said Paula Gagnon, Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs. “Sharing her curriculum development work in Cambodia has enabled those in our Academic Community to benefit from her experiences. It has also brought YCCC students into direct (electronic) contact with students from halfway round the globe. A small community college in Maine has a first-hand experience internationally as a direct result of Cindy’s work.
For Lahar, that work will continue. “This is a lifetime engagement,” she said. “I have made great friends. It’s just marvelous. I’ve been blessed with opportunities.”
Photo caption: YCCC Professor Cindy Lahar, third from left, with teachers at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Lahar’s been working with the university since 2004. (Courtesy photo)

South Berwick Determined to Keep Everyone Warm

Townspeople are planning an “old school” community supper at Spring Hill Restaurant to raise funds to supply local families with heating oil and Keep South Berwick Warm this winter.
Soups and breads from nine local restaurateurs and bakers, raffle prizes from local merchants and a bucket at the front door for cash donations -- on Wednesday, Oct. 28th, from 5-7 p.m., the people of South Berwick are holding a very special supper at Spring Hill Restaurant on Pond Road in South Berwick. It is an old-fashioned community fundraiser being held by townspeople working with Social Services to help local families deal with heating costs this winter. Just like days gone by, there’s no set donation or entry fee -- there will be a bucket by the door where people can give whatever they can to help their neighbors get thru this difficult time
To that end, restaurants in South Berwick and York are pitching in and providing soups and breads for the event. Among them are Nature’s Way Market, Pepperland, Forgarty’s, The Catered Event, Redbarn at the Outlook Farm, The Black Bean, The Brixham General Store, Spring Hill Restaurant, When Pigs Fly Bread. Local merchants including Abby Chic, Salmon Falls Gardens, The Early Bird, Vacuum Village, the Little Hat Company, and Kimmi’s Best Biscotti are providing prizes for raffles to be held during the event. Tickets are also available ahead of time from The Early Bird and The South Berwick Pharmacy. We also have Jeff Lind and Carl Pehrsson playing acoustic jazz music.
“The money we raise from this supper, the raffle and any subsequent donations that are made will give a family a few hours of heat, or help with weatherization of their home,” says Pat Robinson, one of the key organizers. “The support we’ve gotten from the local restaurants and merchants has been very enthusiastic -- if we see the community respond the same way, the event should really make a difference in local families’ lives this winter. If people can’t come, we hope they’ll mail in a donation. We really hope to make sure that all of the families of South Berwick stay warm this winter.”
When residents make their donations to the South Berwick Fuel Fund this year, the checks will be written out to a new organization in town: SoBo Central. SoBo Central was recently incorporated as a non-profit organization with the goal of bringing together five community projects into one tax-exempt nonprofit.
In addition to the Fuel Fund, other programs that have joined to create SoBo Central are Hot Summer Nights, which has run summer concerts for 10 years; Green Up, a local sustainability group formed last year; the South Berwick Community Food Pantry, formed to bring food to residents in need, and Smart Growth South Berwick, which is focused on nurturing the downtown and runs the annual Home for the Holidays event.
“None of these groups had official non profit status and all are run mainly by volunteers. Many of the same people worked with two or more of the organizations, so the new group will help bring together overlapping causes and make all of the efforts stronger,” explains Nicole St. Pierre, SoBo Central Board President.
“Rather than have five groups with separate administrations, SoBo Central pulls them all together so they can share administrative functions and costs. That makes them all more efficient,” says SoBo Central Treasurer, Dave Stansfield.
Donations to the Fuel Fund can also be made directly to SoBo Central, c/o Fuel Fund, 9 York Woods Road, South Berwick, ME 03908. Write “Fuel Fund” on the memo line.
All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. For more information, call Pat Robinson at 207-337-2792.

Friday, October 16, 2009

International Students reflect on
First Weeks at Thornton Academy

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
At the start of the school year, Thornton Academy welcomed 40 international students into its inaugural boarding-student program. A month into the academic year, it’s clear that these students indeed feel welcome.
“I love this place,” said Chou Han, a junior from the Chinese city of Suzhou, which is near Shanghai. He believes the best part “is the relationships between the teachers and the students.”
“I think it’s a great school,” said Denitsa Atanasova, a junior from the island nation of Malta, located in the Mediterranean Sea. “It’s an amazing opportunity for all of us to be here and I hope that we all make the best of it.” Atanasova has wasted no time in taking full advantage of the opportunities that Thornton offers, having already joined Speech Team and the Interact Club (a community service organization). “And I’ll probably join some more,” she added.
“It’s much, much, much better than I thought before I came,” said Shirley Zhao, a junior who came all the way from China’s capital city of Beijing.
“I’m on the Cross Country team and in Interact,” said Melody Chen, a junior from Taiwan. “And that’s really fun,” she added.
The best part of junior Atanasova’s American experience so far is “how friendly everyone is. We came by ourselves and we knew no one. Everyone is always so nice to us, and we made so many friends in the course of a month. That’s really helped us sort of adjust to living here, and being away from home and away from our parents and family and all that.”
The American approach to signing up for classes was the biggest surprise for Alex Li, a sophomore from Beijing. At Thornton “we can choose the classes. In China we can’t choose our classes,” he said.
11th grader Chen also noted the difference between TA and Taiwan: “Compared to Taiwan everything’s different. Every class is really different. In Taiwan we all stay in the same classroom all day.”
“There are a lot of sports teams, and a lot of games everyday,” noted Melo Geng, a sophomore from Bozhou, China, a small city in the middle of the country. “I had never seen a football game (before).” For his own sports plans, Geng says, “I want to join the basketball team.”
Thornton Academy constructed a new dormitory for the boarding program, and the international students have been impressed. “I never was in a boarding school before,”
explained Daniela Montoya, a 9th grader from Columbia. “So to see the dorm is amazing, it’s very nice.” Chen concurs: “It’s amazing, we have everything, and it always smells good, at least the girls side.”
And for 9th grader Emily Hu from Shanghai, the best part is simply “the kitchen.”
With regards to his new adopted home state, sophomore Li says Maine is “very quiet, and it’s very beautiful, and very natural I think. Very different from Beijing where there is a lot of noise.” 9th grader Hu’s first impression was that there are “a lot of trees.” 9th grader Montoya says, “It’s cold, but I love the cold!”
11th grader Atanasova summed it all up saying, “It’s so much different then what I imagined, and so much better too.”
Photo caption: Thornton Academy welcomed 40 international students to its campus this fall. The students are pictured in front of their dorm. (Jenn Haas photo)

Hussey Seating remains an Industry Leader

By Barbara Leech
Staff Columnist
The latest product to come out of Hussey Seating Company, a family-owned business since 1835, is part of recent renovation projects at two major sports arenas in Kansas City.
The Quattro Extreme Series stadium seat, which combines the comfort of an upholstered indoor chair with the durable weather-resistance of an outdoor seat, has been installed for the first time at Kauffman Stadium (home of the Kansas City Royals) and Arrowhead Stadium (home of the Kansas City Chiefs).
“We got the contract about five months ago to renovate the VIP sections of these arenas with our latest product,” Tim Hussey, sixth generation, President and CEO of North Berwick’s Hussey Seating Company said. “We did the seating there about ten years ago, and that was the largest contract in our company’s history at that time, so it was exciting to be called back. And it’s always nice to see a new product going in.”
Hussey’s high quality range of spectator seating includes fixed plastic and upholstered chairs, telescopic platforms, and telescopic gym seating traditionally known as bleachers.
According to Hussey, 51, the Quattro Extreme seating stands up to the elements with everything from rust-proof stanchions and marine-grade fabric to the use of Gore-Tex thread favored by the sailing industry.
The company, started by William Hussey 174 years ago, began with the invention of a new type of plow designed to handle tough New England soil. The company thrived for 60 years as the Hussey Plow Company, but following a fire that destroyed the facility, the Hussey family decided it was time to rebuild and evolve with the times. New product inventions, including seating, were born. Since then, the Hussey name has become a world leader in developing and manufacturing seating solutions for sports arenas and schools around the globe.
A total of 1,500 of the new Quattro Extreme upholstered chairs, which took about one year to develop, were recently installed in Kauffman Stadium and 2,000 of the chairs went into Arrowhead Stadium’s renovations. According to Hussey, these were relatively small contracts and were among the 1,200 to 2,000 contracts the company handles annually, but they represented the first placement of a new product, which he hopes will go far.
“It is exciting to see a new product out there in a major arena… it is good publicity for our company and I believe it is the best product in the industry,” Hussey said. “We have found that even in this recession, renovation projects such as this keep us moving ahead and successful.”
For many schools and sports arenas, the present economy is bringing about more renovations and fewer costly new construction projects. This, according to Hussey, has kept his business going and supports the marketing of the new seating product as a means of making VIP section seating better and keeping fans happy.
“Many sports and entertainment venues, including schools, have sections of club or suite seating for season-ticket holders and other special guests,” said Hussey. “The Quattro Extreme, is ideal for this purpose because it can differentiate that area from the rest of the stadium and justify a higher price of admission.”
The new Quattro chair is presently being installed as part of a 40,000 seat project, Estadio Chivas (, which is a new soccer and multi-use arena being built in Mexico. Hussey said that arena is using the new product for the majority of their 45,000 seating.
“They wanted a top of the line arena and the comfort and durability that these seats provide,” he said. “Everyone is looking to stay competitive and seating is an important part to fans.”
But for Hussey Seating, which employs 185 people at their facility tucked away on Dyer Street, it is on to the next project, which most likely will be a school renovation or small arena.
“About 75 percent of our work is K-12 schools,” he said. “Right now work means reseating a 40 year old arena in San Diego with 1,000 telescopic seats. We have managed to keep up with the times and our industry and thankfully remain very busy.”
Hussey says his company is making plans for a big celebration for next year, their 175th anniversary. For more information about the company visit online

Land Conserved in the York Pond Region

Great Works Regional Land Trust and Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative (MtA2C) announced on Oct. 8 the successful purchase of 91 additional acres of conservation land in the York Pond region of Eliot/South Berwick. The forested parcel on Rocky Hill features wetlands, vernal pools and the headwaters of Quamphegan Brook. It is the seventh project that Great Works Regional Land Trust has secured in the York Pond region.
Interest in conserving the lands around York Pond began in the late 1980’s and efforts that began over 20 years ago have now yielded over 600 acres of permanently protected land in this rapidly growing region of southern Maine. The York Pond Conservation Area is situated between Routes 236 and 91 on the northerly shores of York Pond and Bartlett Upper Mill Pond, and encompasses much of the abandoned settlement of Punkintown. The lands are owned by Great Works Regional Land Trust, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, Town of Eliot (Eliot Town Forest) and Town of South Berwick. The conservation area is home to rare and endangered species, historical and cultural artifacts and lies within a 3,000-acre region of unfragmented forest.
This recent addition to the York Pond Conservation Area was purchased with funds generously donated by 94 individuals in the community, generous grants from the Davis Conservation Foundation and the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, along with monies raised by MtA2C. This is the 47th successful acquisition since 2003 made possible by the MtA2C campaign.
MtA2C has received recognition by the State of Maine Department of Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its landscape-scale and multi-organization approach to the land protection in southern Maine. A coalition of ten conservation partners, MtA2C is comprised of The Nature Conservancy, Great Works Regional Land Trust, York Land Trust, Kittery Land Trust, The Trust for Public Land, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, US Fish and Wildlife Service/Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, and York Rivers Association.
The focus area for MtA2C covers 48,000 acres from the Tatnic Hills south over Mt. Agamenticus to York Pond, down the York River and south along the coast to Brave Boat Harbor and Gerrish Island in Kittery; and includes six communities (York, Kittery, Eliot, South Berwick, Wells, and Ogunquit). This focus area represents the largest unfragmented coastal forest between Acadia National Park and the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The Initiative aims to conserve a broad assemblage of ecological, scenic, agricultural and recreational lands that weave together the rich fabric of the region’s lifestyle. MtA2C has protected over 2,554 acres of land in the region since the Initiative began in 2002.
Great Works Regional Land Trust has scheduled a Nov. 8th hike on the new property. Contact GWRLT for more information:, 207-646-3604 or visit the website

Friday, October 9, 2009

Astronaut Cassidy Comes Home to York

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
In the history of the world, only 500 people have ever traveled in space. Included in that exclusive club is York High School graduate Chris Cassidy. Last Thursday Cassidy went back to his alma mater to share his recent space adventure with his hometown.
The YHS gymnasium buzzed with excitement as Cassidy, a member of the class of ’88, took the stage. Commander Cassidy, who was a Mission Specialist on NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavor on a 16-day mission in July, began by describing the nerve-wracking days leading up to the launch. “It was like the 7 days leading up to the Marshwood game,” explained Cassidy, referencing the YHS sports rival.
Cassidy then played a 20-minute video of highlights from his space flight, and added his commentary to the striking images playing on the screen.
After 5 frustrating failed launch attempts, the Endeavor finally launched on July 15 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Endeavor’s mission was to install the Japanese “Kibo” Experiment Facility at the International Space Station (ISS). The ride into space felt “like a pick-up truck” on a dirt road, according to Cassidy.
Endeavor docked at the ISS while travelling at a rate 17,500 mph, or 5 miles per second. “ISS is huge,” Cassidy said of the internationally created space laboratory. “And it’s a testament to what international cooperation can do.”
Once inside ISS, Cassidy glanced out a window to get a glimpse of the earth. The image stunned him to the point that “I was at a loss for words for 10 seconds.” Similarly spectacular images prompted Cassidy to take over 8,000 pictures during his time in space.
During the 11 days spent at ISS, Cassidy spent a combined 5 hours outside the ISS in space during his 2 spacewalks. Most of that time was spent changing batteries. The biggest surprise on his spacewalk was the rapid setting of the sun. “It went from day to night in 18-25 seconds,” Cassidy said. “One of the most fun things, was at the end of the day, just sharing the time to have dinner. There were five nations up there, US astronauts, Russian cosmonauts, Japanese astronauts, a European astronaut from Belgium, and 2 Canadians. Different music, different cultures, different languages, just up there joking around for an hour of social time before bed. Couple that with looking out the window, seeing no borders on the earth, it just really was a great time.”
After the video segment, Cassidy took several questions from the audience.
Summarizing his overall experience, Cassidy said “I had a smile on my face the whole time.” Cassidy plans to stay at NASA for the foreseeable future. “I love my job,” he said simply.
Cassidy mingled with the audience before and after giving his remarks. “He seems like a really nice guy,” commented York resident and space enthusiast Bill Carpenter, who got the chance to meet the local astronaut.
To begin the evening, the audience heard the YHS Chamber Singers perform the Star Spangled Banner. Introductory speakers included York School Committee Chair Marilyn Zotos, YHS Principal Bob Stevens, York Town Manager Robert Yandow, and a representative from Senator Susan Collins’ office. Yandow read a town proclamation that announced Oct. 1st would now be Chris Cassidy Day in the town of York.
Reflecting on this evening full of hometown pride, Cassidy said that he is “truly humbled to get this much attention.”
Photo caption: Astronaut Chris Cassidy, a York native, returned to recount his space shuttle mission in July. (Devin Beliveau photo)

Neighbors helping Neighbors in North Berwick

By Barbara Leech
Staff Columnist
Last year the Neighborly Craft Fair, a fundraising effort started by three local women, raised $5,000 for North Berwick’s fuel assistance program and the town’s food pantry. That total was matched dollar for dollar, bringing in $10,000 for those in need. This year, the trio hopes they can match or surpass what they describe as an unexpected success.
“We had no idea this would bring in so much funding….we just wanted to do whatever we could. We were ecstatic with the result,” Rindy Hilton, one of the Neighborly Craft Fair organizers said, “For three friends who started this not knowing what we were doing, we were amazed at the generosity and how everyone we asked to help just said yes.”
Hilton says they will continue to hold the fair as long as the economy drags and people are in need.
“Unfortunately we are back by popular demand. There are many people who have lost their jobs in our community,” she says. “The need is there this year as much as last, so we are going to do our part.”
The craft fair is set for Nov. 28, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the North Berwick Primary School gymnasium. The fee for crafters to rent a table is $20 plus a donation of one of their craft items for the raffle table. All proceeds from the event including the sale of lunch, prepared by Nobel High’s culinary students and served by volunteers from the ladies auxiliary, raffles, a silent auction, and monetary donations will be split 50-50 between the North Berwick Fuel Assistance program and the town food pantry.
According to fellow organizer Katie Jacques, about 20 crafters have signed up so far, but they are hoping to get that number to 50 crafters by the Nov. 6 enrollment deadline.
“We would love to do it bigger and better, but last year was so successful we will have to work hard to top it,” she said. “It’s amazing to witness neighbors stepping up to help their neighbors. We had one woman come in and just give cash, saying she wasn’t sending holiday cards that year…instead she would help someone stay warm.”
Last year the grand total from the fair was matched by a $3,500 donation from the Cecil B. Day Fund and $1,500 from the town’s four church organizations. Donations of raffle items came not just from crafters but from local businesses such as Appledore Cove and Carpe Diem Coffee. Crafters ranged from traditional knitters, woodcrafters and artists to bakers of specialized doggy biscuits.
Though the town has a general assistance program set up by the state, there are many who may not meet state qualifications for assistance but still are in financial need. The Fuel Assistance Program is for those who fit that category of need.
Hilton, Jacques and fellow organizer Janet Belmain are currently looking at foundations that would pledge to provide matching dollars to the fair’s grand total. Regardless of the financial outcome the trio says they feel like the community has made this effort a success.
“I have never been involved in anything quite like this….to see everyone come together to help,” Hilton says. “It is an amazing thing. It makes you proud of North Berwick and the people who live here.”
Applications for the craft fair are available online at or contact Katie Jacques at 676-3353, Rindy Hilton at 676-4414 or Jan Belmain at 676-3368.

Program offers Traip Students
Career Exploration Choices

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
For the past two years, students at Traip Academy have had an opportunity to explore a variety of career options while also pursuing their academic course work. Known as the Choices program, students can be placed for a few hours a day in one or more of several local businesses that have agreed to participate in the program, offering kids the chance to job shadow and serve internships.
“We match up students in the program with local businesses they may have an interest in,” said Michael Gardner, Traip’s Career Exploration Coordinator. “We look for a good fit that can turn into an internship and last longer with increasing responsibilities.”
Gardner said there are approximately 15 students - both boys and girls - currently in the program. Most students tend to come into the program as sophomores or higher. “It’s open to any student,” he said. “We’re trying to match up kids that really want to do this. If the traditional route in high school isn’t serving you, maybe this (program) serves you better.”
Under the program, students spend mornings in academic coursework, and then in the afternoon focus on career exploration. “The current (placements) are for two to three weeks,” Gardner said. “If the student and business are happy with it, we look to keep it going. If they don’t like it, we ask the students to do some reflection - what didn’t they like and why?”
Representatives of two of the businesses involved, Little Brook Farm of Kittery and the Hissong Group, said they thought the program was outstanding. “It’s a wonderful thing they’re doing so the kids can find out what they want to do in life,” said Holly Piche, owner of Little Brook Farm. “We have had four or five kids. They learn farming and how to care for the animals and do regular barn chores, feeding and cleaning. I would have loved this if they had it when I was in high school.”
Mike Polakewicz, the Human Resource and Safety Manager for Hissong, echoed Piche’s sentiment. “I love this program,” he said. “We have two young men at our site off Route 236 in Eliot where we’re building a concrete batch plant. There are carpenters, mason contractors, people putting up steel, plumbers - a large variety of opportunities for these young men to observe. I told my guys to be very careful. The boys will be doing a helper type arrangement but they’ll have a chance to learn.”
Gardner said the program was the brainchild of Jane Durgin, the Director of Special Services at Traip. “This is her baby,” he said. “She’d like to see it go beyond Traip to other southern Maine services.”
In addition to Little Brook Farm and Hissong, Gardner has recruited Seahill Alpaca Farm of Kittery, Kittery Animal Hospital, Kittery Family Practice, York Hospital, Kittery Estates, Portsmouth Auto Body, and Auto Works of Kittery to participate in the program, offering students a variety of job settings. “Most are glad to help,” said Gardner. “They’re super people. I tell them the kids are serious about learning.”
Polakewicz said he was convinced about the value of the program from the beginning. “When I was in high school, we had co-op, where kids went out and did work a few hours a day. That was a great program back in the 1960s. When I got the call (about this), that’s what I thought back to. I think it’s great.”

Friday, October 2, 2009

Dan Brown is Back with The Lost Symbol

By Chip Schrader
Book Review Editor
Dan Brown’s new novel The Lost Symbol is a guaranteed blockbuster with national news reports about Masonic architecture and symbolism in Washington D.C., and the documentaries about “decoding” Da Vinci’s work and Freemasonry in anticipation of its release. Like the protagonist of the series, Professor Langdon, Dan Brown has become the Rock Star of his field, and every struggling author wants desperately to hate the man who made adult fiction interesting again.
The book begins when Langdon is called by an old friend’s assistant to give a lecture in Washington D.C. After a little gentle coercion, he finally concedes and flies out to discuss symbolism to a crowd of restless college students. But upon getting to the Rotunda, a severed hand pointing to the ceiling sends the Professor into a whirlwind treasure hunt for a very elusive and transformative Masonic Portal that could change humanity forever.
On his tail is a man covered from head to toe in tattoos named Mal’akh, a name derived from a cannibalistic demon of ancient lore. This figure was also referenced as “Moloch” in Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem Howl, for those who find the name familiar. As for Mal’akh, the very powerful criminal wants something that very few men have been able to obtain, and Langdon, he knows, is his gateway.
As he chases through the capital after this great mystery, Langdon is reunited with another old friend, Katherine Solomon. A brilliant and beautiful scientist who does noetic research in the bowels of a secure government facility, her findings uncover the possibility that human thought is an actual physical entity, that in large volumes can have an impact on the physical world. A chase that occurs in a scene involving her and Mal’akh will make every reader relive their childhood fear of dark places.
Brown gleans from rudimentary aspects of string theory, psychology, mysticism, ancient symbolism, American and Roman history to tie in the mystery, and to build a logical context for the story. Throughout the novel, Brown makes sure Langdon deciphers the facts and myths of Freemasonry so as to not make the novel just another conspiracy tale about the brotherhood.
While it would be easier to make an interesting novel making the fraternity evil with creepy powers that make them control the world, Brown takes on the challenge of representing the Masonic brotherhood more realistically, and as a result, makes a believable piece of speculative fiction.
The chapters that are brief ensure quick action, and the chapters that are longer grip at the spleen making the reader want to know what happens next. Brown utilizes expert pacing. Admittedly, when first opening the book, the phrase “since the beginning of time” pops up, and it will make some readers cringe. But the occasionally canned phrase is a sin that any master storyteller may not only commit, but in the context of the whole work, make the cranky reviewer dismiss the misstep as only a minor detail.
As a whole, this book is an endlessly entertaining thriller with plenty of action. Many might look for The Da Vinci Code Part Two, but honestly, that is not what we want, and it is not what we get. The Lost Symbol is a fun and engaging novel that will not touch the tabletop until it is finished.
Photo caption: Book cover of The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. (Courtesy photo)

Trolley Museum welcomes ASL 100 Locomotive

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
The locomotive sat in front of the visitor’s center, much as it might have a hundred years or so ago, awaiting passengers for a trip around the tracks.
The completely restored Atlantic Shore Line Railway electric locomotive No. 100 was unveiled at the Seashore Trolley Museum, the star in a series of new exhibits and projects involving people of all ages. The Seashore Trolley Museum, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary. is the oldest and largest electric railway museum in the world.
This $180,000 project included the restoration of ASL-100, development of a curriculum for local schools, and interpretive exhibits for area museums, societies, and schools.
The restored locomotive will now return to use for public demonstrations and educational purposes at the museum.
An ironic twist to the restoration of ASL-100 is that it once “operated right through this property,” Jim Schantz, chairman of the Board of Directors of the museum told a crowd of more than 200 guests attending the ceremony.
The project took “a little less than three years” to complete, according to Phil Morse, ASL 100 project director, including more than 4,000 volunteer hours. There was, he said, more volunteer hours than staff hours on this particular project.
At one time trolleys ran regularly on the Seacoast from Kittery to Biddeford, including the ASL 100, one of only two to survive in North America.
Local use of those trolleys “changed the social fabric of society,” he said, noting that records show about 5 million people were carried by the trolleys in 1907. “The electric railway system changed people’s lives.”
The companion exhibit at the museum is History in Motion: Public Transportation Connecting Maine Communities, that depicts how trolleys changed the lives of Mainers.
Maine State Sen. Nancy Sullivan praised the work of the museum saying it was “one of the favorite things” she has the pleasure of supporting. “This is a first class act,” she said, because it’s “interested in the past, lives in the present, and plans for the future.”
The third part of the project, done in conjunction with the Maine Department of Education and the Boston Museum of Science, is the development of Engineering is Elementary Program of the National Center for Technological Literacy. The ultimate goal is to develop curricular materials that integrate science and technology learning with social studies and assist teachers in meeting the best national practices in instructional design.
The major source of funding for the project came from the Federal and State Transportation Enhancement Act. More than $100,000 came from the Federal Highway Administration and more than $46,000 through the Maine Department of Transportation.
The remainder of the funds came from interested organizations and individual donors.
Those joining Morse, Schantz and Sen. Sullivan at the ceremony included Patricia Erikson, exhibit curator and education project manager.
Photo caption: The ASL 100 locomotive was unveiled on Sept. 25 at the Seashore Trolley Museum. (Larry Favinger photo)

Enrollment Surge Continues at
York County Community College

The upward enrollment trend continues at York County Community College (YCCC) as over 1,400 students, an increase of 32% from Sept. 2008, fill the classrooms for the Fall 2009 semester. This marks the fourth consecutive year that YCCC has experienced an increase in both full and part-time enrollment. The incoming class of first year, transfer and returning students is the largest ever in the college’s fifteen year history. The largest gains are seen in total new applications, which increased from 749 to 1,021.
“The dramatic admissions growth can be attributed to a variety of circumstances,” said Fred Quistgard, Director of Admissions. “A poor economy influenced a broad spectrum of applicants to choose YCCC. Traditional students who couldn’t afford private 4-year colleges, laid-off workers who need re-training and transfer students burdened with high tuition bills all saw the economic and educational benefits of a YCCC education.”
YCCC, which is the youngest of Maine’s seven community colleges, showed application growth in all majors including Criminal Justice, the newest degree program. “The addition of a new and enthusiastic department chair undoubtedly influenced the application growth in that major,” Quistgard explained. Tracey Cornell, former crime analyst with the Portland Police Department, accepted that position in May 2009.
YCCC President Charles Lyons attributes the bursting enrollment to “families having tough conversations regarding the financial realities of higher education; while at the same time, believing in the quality education we offer at an affordable cost.” The in-state credit hour tuition at YCCC is $84.
In reporting preliminary 2009 enrollment numbers, MCCS President John Fitzsimmons noted that degree seeking enrollment is up by 1,553 students over last fall and nearly 6,300 students since the seven institutions made the transition from technical to community colleges in 2003.The number of students entering directly from high school has also continued to grow, up 87% in seven years and 10% this year alone (to 2,337).
The steady growth in enrollment does put additional strain on the colleges’ resources, however. “At one point this summer, we were nearly ‘sold out’ of seats. Fortunately, it was early enough that Academic Affairs responded and added additional sections, but finding the classroom and lab space was challenging,” advised Corinne Kowpak, Dean of Students. The leadership of the single-building college campus is currently looking into the possibility of erecting a second building to help ease the space crunch.
York County Community College, established in 1994, is one of seven community colleges in the Maine Community College System. The college enrolls over 1,400 students in associate degrees and transfer programs and over 1,600 individuals in non-credit continuing education and professional development areas.