Friday, April 30, 2010

$30 Million Received to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Homes

Vice President Joseph Biden has announced 25 communities across America that have won a total of $452 million in “Retrofit Ramp-up” energy efficiency grants, as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Maine has been awarded $30 million to help fund energy efficiency efforts in the state.
“As we prepare to mark the 40th anniversary of Earth Day it is great to show that Maine is a leader in taking action to reduce our energy consumption, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and also reduce costs for Maine consumers,” said Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree. “For Maine to win this grant shows that we have one of the top energy efficiency programs in the country and that is something we should be proud of.”
The Retrofit Ramp-up initiative included a competitive grant application process that the Obama Administration says received nearly $3.5 billion in application requests. Because of actions taken by the Legislature in the last several years to create an infrastructure to assist businesses and homeowners undertake the task of making their structures more energy efficient, Maine was well positioned to compete for a share of the funds.
“Last year we established the Efficiency Maine Trust as a way to consolidate various efficiency programs so that Maine people could more easily find help in reducing their energy bills,” said Rep. Jon Hinck, the House chairman of the Utilities and Energy Committee. “This grant will also specifically take advantage of a process that we enacted this year. The Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE bill, will help cities and towns access these funds.”
PACE programs allow municipalities to raise money and lend it to property owners who apply for financing. Property owners repay their loans through an assessment on their property tax bill. The program is strictly voluntary, with municipalities deciding whether to establish PACE programs, and property owners participating if they want to.
“PACE programs are a great opportunity for property owners to weatherize their homes and save energy and money,” said Rep. Patsy Crockett, D-Augusta, the sponsor of the PACE bill. “These federal funds will ensure that the programs can be a success throughout the state and more Maine people will have the ability to make their homes and businesses energy efficient.”
Those interested in finding out more about how to make their homes or businesses more energy efficient should log on to Efficiency Maine’s web site for links to all of their programs:

Tourism Association Hosts Southern Maine’s First Hospitality Expo

The Maine Beaches Association is pleased to be hosting the 2010 Southern Maine Hospitality Training & Attractions Expo on May 11, 2010. This free event, the first of its kind in southern Maine, is sponsored through a grant from the Maine Office of Tourism and will be held from 1-6 p.m. at the beautiful Coastal House in Wells. The program is designed to support the tourism industry by offering training sessions on “Making the Maine Beaches Experience Great: It All Begins With ME!”, as well as an opportunity to network with and learn more about local attractions in a trade show setting. In addition to the program, there will be refreshments and hourly giveaways of tickets, passes and other prizes provided by participating attractions.
“We’re really excited about this event and the opportunity it gives to our local tourism industry,” says Karen Arel, President of the Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce and Maine Beaches Association board member. “With so many seasonal positions and staff turnover, there’s a definite need for this kind of training. Making visits to the south coast of Maine great so that people will return time and time again is a goal shared amongst all of us in the tourism industry, and this event is a great way to expand our toolboxes and make that happen.”
Attractions currently registered for the event include museums, amusement parks, arcades & mini golf, recreational programs, cruises and fishing charters, retailers, transportation providers and local arts venues.
While this event is focused on people working in the hospitality industry, members of the public wishing to learn more about the area and talk to representatives from local attractions are also invited to attend.
For more information and to register for the event visit:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Volunteers Needed for Cleanup of Town’s Oldest Cemetery

A cleanup of Old Fields Burying Ground on Vine Street will be held on the morning of Saturday, May 1 from 7 a.m. until noon. The rain date will be Sunday, May 2.
Neighbors and everyone who appreciates old cemeteries are invited to stop by any time, don gloves and pick up brush and leaves among the old headstones. Organizers Bruce and Vicky Whitney will provide free lunch at noon.
Located near the corner of Vine and Brattle Streets, the Old Fields Burying Ground was once South Berwick’s chief cemetery and dates from the 1600s.
“For the past two years, the neighbors of Old Fields and members of the Old Berwick Historical Society have joined together to help clean up and bring new life to the historic Old Fields Burying Ground,” Bruce Whitney said, adding that all ages and all talent levels are welcomed.
“It doesn’t matter where you live in town,” he said. “If you have an hour or two on May 1, please join us. If you have a rake and a ground cloth, please bring them. And everybody should dress with long pants and long sleeves.”
So far over the past two years, volunteers have removed 40 trees from the overgrown cemetery, which covers 1.75 acres overlooking Leigh’s Mill Pond. Some eight tons of leaves, logs, branches and brush have been cleaned up and hauled off, said Whitney.
The number of volunteers grew from 24 to 44 last year, and Whitney is hoping to see 50 helpers this year.
“The transformation of this cemetery is not complete but great and noticeable progress has been achieved,” he added. “You will work hard and you will work constantly, but you will also be rewarded for your efforts.”
Also known as Vine Street Cemetery, the Old Fields Burying Ground contains 339 known graves, including South Berwick’s founders and veterans of the World Wars, Civil War, French and Indian Wars and the American Revolution. It is no longer cared for by local cemetery authorities and currently depends on volunteers for maintenance.
One of the interesting graves is that of the early colonist Hetty Goodwin, who was captured by the Indians and carried to Canada in 1689.
Veterans’ graves include those of a Civil War brevet major, and soldiers of the American Revolution. The cemetery is also the resting place of early Congregational ministers, including Rev. Jeremiah Wise, ordained here 300 years ago when this area was the center of town. The community’s main church stood here and residents worked at sawmills on the Great Works River and a shipyard near the Hamilton House. Jonathan Hamilton’s grave is in the burying ground as well.
For more information about the cleanup event, please contact Bruce Whitney (207) 384-384-2051, 384-2753 or BWHITNEY@GWI.NET. History information about the cemetery can be found at the Old Berwick Historical Society’s website,
Photo caption: Volunteers are needed to clean up Old Fields Burying Ground on Vine Street in South Berwick on Saturday, May 1, from 7 a.m. to noon. Shown here are some of last year’s spring cleanup volunteers. (Courtesy photo)

May Day Festival in Kennebunk

Kennebunk’s 12th Annual May Day Festival will be held on Saturday, May 1, 2010 and promises to be a full day of family-friendly activities throughout Downtown Kennebunk. Look for our new maps on Main Street to plot your course and join us for some or all the excitement that day!
Important note: The May Day Parade will begin at 1:30 p.m. and will include all the Kennebunks’ Little Leaguers in full uniform! (Everyone connected with the Little League is asked to park behind the Lafayette Center – routes from there to your games will be provided!) There will also be some well-known Mascots, antique/classic cars, the Shoe String Puppet Theater and Shriners!
Visit the open house at The Brick Store Museum (make your own May-basket), stop by the faerie garden planting and book/bake sale at The Kennebunk Free Library and celebrate opening day for The Kennebunk Farmers Market just off Main Street in the public parking lot. Check out the Maine Women in the Arts exhibit at The Kennebunk Inn, the craft market booths with artists/craftspeople at Lafayette Park on Storer Street and try your hand at chalk art at We Care Cleaners on the way by (no experience necessary!). There will be May-pole dancing, a rock climbing wall and all the usual Main Street shops will be open along with restaurants, and miscellaneous food vendors.
Multiple live bands will be playing in Lafayette Park on Storer Street, as well as the gazebo on Water Street throughout the afternoon. Come hear Ray Brown House Band, The Kennebunk River Band, Ketchfish Blues Band and Bob Cangello. Also performing will be Starbird Life Players and The Little Melodies Band. Don’t forget your lawn chair or bring a blanket!
A complete schedule of events, and list of sponsors who make this event happen, will be available soon at; go to Calendar and scroll down to May.

New Guide Helps Identify Maine’s Natural Communities

It’s easy to say – almost to the point of being clich├ęd -- that Maine people live in a unique region of the U.S., but two state ecologists are proving just that with a new book that’s just been published.
Susan C. Gawler, regional vegetation ecologist with NatureServe, a non-profit conservation science organization, and Andrew Cutko, a Maine Natural Areas Program (MNAP) ecologist with the Maine Department of Conservation, are co-authors of “Natural Landscapes of Maine: A Guide to Natural Communities and Ecosystems,” recently published by MNAP.
The new guidebook outlines and defines the 104 distinct, natural communities of which the state is comprised, proving just how special Maine really is. From the rare-to-Maine alpine bogs found in the Mahoosucs to the globally rare riverside seeps on the St. John River, Maine has some truly unusual landscapes, and Cutko and Gawler are helping everyone from conservationists to teachers to backyard naturalists discover that fact.
“We recognize that Maine is a special place that many people take for granted,” Cutko said recently. “Part of the message of the book is to give readers a real sense of place about where they live.”
“Conservation practitioners can use this as a technical guide, but more broadly, people who love the outdoors and the natural beauty of Maine can learn more about its diversity both statewide and close to home,” Gawler said. “There’s so much to see when you look closely! Appreciating the diversity of Maine’s habitats is the first step in their conservation and sensible use.”
The unique field guide has been more than10 years in preparation and came about when Gawler and Cutko perceived different needs for clear, concise information about the various habitats in Maine. A licensed forester by training, Cutko pointed out that the MNAP works with hundreds of foresters, environmental consultants and developers who need the program’s ecological information for conservation planning and development to minimize impact.
Much of the program’s information already existed in a notebook format with highly technical verbiage, definitely not the most user-friendly. “Some of our constituents can digest that type of information,” Cutko said, “but we recognized there was a much broader segment of the population, such as the weekend naturalist or fourth-grade teacher, who had an interest in the world around them.”
Gawler, who previously was a MNAP ecologist, did the bulk of the initial information analysis and crunched the technical data, undertaking the process of determining landscape types. Cutko, who previously was director of NatureServe’s forest program, used his field knowledge to refine the definitions of the various communities. “Dozens and dozens of people” did the actual field work of collecting data in various habitats, notating the plants and animals that live in them around the state, he said.
What has resulted is a guide that is a significant tool for the identification and conservation of special places throughout the state that meets the technical and general description needs of both audiences.
In identifying the 104 unique communities, the two ecologists used a “top-down” approach, Cutko explained, starting with four specific subgroups that are color-coded in the book: wooded uplands; wooded wetlands; open uplands; and open wetlands.
“Even a grade-schooler can figure out if they’re in a forested upland or an open wetland,” the ecologist said. “One of the first questions we ask is: Are your feet wet or dry? Are there trees there or not? … By grouping them that way, we try to make use of the book compatible even to those with much less knowledge and experience.”
Under each subgroup, readers will find a two-page description of each type, including attractive photographs, maps and helpful lists on trees, shrubs, wildflowers and wildlife, and most importantly, where on Maine’s conservation lands each habitat can be visited. Introductory material includes a diagnostic key and how each classification fits into a bigger picture for conservation; appendices include a cross-reference to other classification types and a glossary.
An interesting aspect of the guide is the inclusion of rankings by rarity. Some habitats are rare to Maine, but more common in other states, such as the oak-hickory forest found only in southern Maine but common from Massachusetts to West Virginia. Other habitats are “truly globally rare,” Cutko pointed out. These include the pitch pine-scrub oak barrens in southern Maine that require periodic burning to be maintained and the riverside seep in the St. John Valley, home of the Furbish’s lousewort, a rare and endangered snapdragon that grows nowhere else in the world.
The book was carefully designed by Cutko, Lisa St. Hilaire, MNAP information manager, and designer Cory Courtois of Waterville to be accessible and attractive. About 3,000 books have been printed through grants from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, the Maine Forest Service and the Sweet Water Trust of Boston. Initial responses, mostly from the environmental community, have been positive; an enthusiastic reader called it “one wicked nice book.”
“It’s been a long time coming,” Cutko acknowledged, “but we’re pretty confident it’s going to be useful to our constituents. What I am hopeful about are the high school kids or the amateur naturalist who want to know more about the woods and wetlands they’ve been walking through. Those are the Maine folks we also hope we reach.”
For more information about “Natural Landscapes of Maine,” go to: (Courtesy photo)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Legislature Sends Jobs Bond Questions to June Voters

The Maine Legislature has voted to send a $57.8 million jobs bond package to Maine voters. The House and Senate agreed to a bipartisan, compromise package on April 12 that is smaller than the one passed by a two-thirds majority in the House last week but, if passed by voters, will make substantial investments in Maine’s economic infrastructure and create or save thousands of jobs this construction season.
“Putting people to work was our number one goal,” said Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell. “While I would have preferred to invest $85 million and put more people to work, this package will still make it possible for thousands of Maine people to earn paychecks this summer.”
The compromise package, which was enacted by a vote of 102 to 44 in the House and 30 to 5 in the Senate, contains $24.8 million for road and bridge construction, $6.5 million for the construction of a deep-water port, $500K for the Small Harbor Improvement Program, $5 million for investments in advanced equipment for wind power at the University of Maine, and $5 million for the construction of a community-based teaching clinic operated by a college of dental medicine and for upgrades to health and dental care clinics around the state.
“This is a timely and targeted jobs package that will make key investments in our infrastructure and keep Maine people working,” said Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree. “Unemployment is too high. We need to ensure that this summer is a busy one for Maine’s construction industry. This is a package that we can afford and one that we need to send out to Maine voters.”
The package, if approved by voters, also would include funding for the preservation of several key rail lines around the state. Most notably, the package includes a plan for keeping a section of rail connecting Aroostook County to the rest of the continent operational, preserving thousands of jobs there. The original bond package included $17 million for the preservation of the Aroostook County line. The compromise package includes a proposal to fund the acquisition of the rail line with a three-pronged approach. The package would ask voters to approve $7 million in bonds, which would be matched by $7 million in state funds from the Budget Stabilization Fund and $3 million from the shippers who utilize the line.
“It is imperative that we maintain these tracks,” said Rep. Ken Theriault (D- Madawaska.) “The number of businesses, communities and people that depend on these rails for the transport of lumber, wood chips, pulp wood, and heating fuels, are too numerous to count. Many businesses would lose their competitive edge if they are not able to receive and ship via rail. This abandonment will trickle down to many throughout the state. A state without rail in the North Country would not be inviting to new businesses, and the end result will be lost jobs.”
The $57.8 million package makes changes to questions that were already on the June ballot, reducing those by $13.5 million and $44.3 million in new proposed bonding. Items already on the June ballot that are being amended include the elimination of a proposal to bond $12 million for the weatherization of homes and businesses, reducing funding for the Working Waterfront program by $250K, reducing funding for the Small Enterprise Growth Fund by $1 million and reducing funding for the Maine Historic Preservation Commission by $250K.
According to the rating agency Standard and Poor’s, Maine has a “…favorable debt position with a low debt burden and rapid amortization of debt…” Maine has a low amount of debt per capita, ranking 33rd in nation according to Moody’s, and pays off debt over 10 years, rather than 30, like most states do.

Faith and Flesh

By Chip Schrader
Book Review Editor
“The Body of This” by Portland, Maine author Andrew McNabb, is a collection of short fiction, mostly flash fiction, depicting the spirituality, sensuality and architecture of Maine lives. While it is focused on sites like Marginal Way, Congress Street, and towns “forty five miles up the Maine coast from Portland” as far down as Boston, the stories, or better yet, snippets of each character’s life pulls this collection from regional fiction to a literary study.
The first story, “The Architecture of Things,” skims the back story of John Thomas, a tattooed blue collar worker and his lover Aoife, a devout Catholic who found true love in her opposite. The architecture of the story is sparse framework, many details are spared, and some sensual details and observations remain. Setting the tone of religion, eccentricity, sensuality, and nakedness, the story is well placed at the beginning.
To draw out the theme of eccentricity, “The Artist” begins with “My name is Trevor. I want to die.” As he tells his story about a moment in his life as an art student at the Maine College of Art in Portland, he watches a retirement home and paints it stating he wants to see it “breathe.” He observes the elderly people in a state of suspended animation by our culture. They waste away with nothing to do. But, as the story winds down, we begin to understand, in a way, where he is going with his fascination with dying, or being alive just before that time might come.
There are some very short pieces that McNabb somehow manages to wedge a complete story into, as well. “The Hunchback of Munjoy Hill” is about as long as this review, maybe shorter, and depicts an elderly man who suddenly takes to swearing in his old age. The reason springs up at the end like a riddle, and indicates a possible commentary on the change of human values without really judging the situation or character.
Such is the case with every story. The initial actions and descriptions make the reader shrug and wonder “so what,” and as the story winds to a close, there isn’t always a resolution, but the cryptic details make sense. McNabb spares the reader of any judgment or blame; snippets of their lives are just economically documented. The temptation is to blow through each story, but they demand the reader to meditate upon them. Like poetry, the reader should take each paragraph, and use the sparse wording as an opportunity to observe what is, and is not written.
From a character going back to their childhood home after years of forgetting their past, like in “Piles,” to a character who has never been naked before his wife in his eight decades, all of McNabb’s characters try to resolve the conflict between the spiritual and physical world. The common theme is managing one’s way through a strange life that follows no convention or norm that the architectures of society or religion, have failed to dictate. “The Body of This” is a wonderful surprise from a collection that could fit into a Sunday devotional.
Photo caption: (Courtesy photo of book cover)

Old Berwick Historical Society to Present Archaeological Heritage of the Isles of Shoals

Isles of Shoals Marine Laboratory archaeologist Nathan Hamilton will present a report on his recent excavations of a fishing station on Smuttynose Island.
Sponsored by the Old Berwick Historical Society, the lecture will be held Thursday evening, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. at Berwick Academy’s Jeppesen Science Center on Academy Street. Admission is free, and volunteers will serve refreshments.
The Shoals Marine Laboratory, in conjunction with the Smuttynose Island Stewards Program, has supported two archaeological field seasons on the island, eight miles from the Maine and New Hampshire coasts. During the summers of 2008 and 2009, excavations identified a large prehistoric Native American site and a 17th century European fishing station. Hamilton’s project has focused on recovery and analysis of marine and coastal animal remains.
The Haley family also left its mark on the archaeological record of Smuttynose between 1770 and the 1840s. Finds from the mid-1800s are associated with the hotel activities of the Mid-Ocean House, operated on the island by the family of poet Celia Thaxter.
Hamilton is associate professor in the geography-anthropology department of the University of Southern Maine. While at the University of Pittsburgh he completed his Ph.D. in anthropology on prehistoric maritime adaptation in western Maine. His research interests include evolution of the Gulf of Maine’s coastal environments, faunal analysis and prehistoric diet. He also studies ethnicity through textiles and basketry production among communities in the Virgin Islands as well as Quechua speaking peoples of the Peruvian Andes.
This event is part of the Old Berwick Historical Society’s 2010 series of talks, walks and historical events. The series is supported by members, including Kennebunk Savings Bank, the major sponsor. Programs include seven monthly evening presentations as well as other local history events around South Berwick, including the society’s Counting House Museum.
More information on all the Old Berwick Historical Society’s programs is available at, or by calling (207) 384-0000.
Photo caption: Archaeologist Nathan Hamilton at his dig site at Smuttynose Island in 2009, when he explored marine and coastal animal remains dating back to prehistoric times. (Courtesy photo)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Weekly Sentinel Presents Healthcare Reform Overview

One of the most closely followed and controversial pieces of legislation in four decades, the recently passed Federal healthcare reform legislation potentially affects the lives of all Americans. Much of the debate over the past year has featured political posturing and misinformation about what is actually contained within the legislation. Regardless of what people think, however, it is possible that the legislation will have an effect similar to that of Medicare and Social Security, entitlement programs that many Americans have come to depend on. The Weekly Sentinel has attempted to summarize highlights of the bill and provide more detailed explanations of certain important components of it. Those items can be found beginning on page 19 of the April 9, 2010 issue.

Obama Visits Portland to Explain Healthcare Law

President Obama reacts to a comment from the crowd at the Portland Expo on Thursday, April 1st. President Obama visited Portland to rally support for the recently passed health care reform law. Obama’s speech focused primarily on the parts of the law that will begin to affect Americans this year. (Devin Beliveau photo)

Area Residents Hone Work Ready Skills

Four Wells and one Arundel residents were among the fourteen area adults recently completing a 60 hour Work Ready™ training and were honored at a graduation ceremony on Thursday, March 4 at York Adult Education. The soft skills based training is designed to provide successful participants with not only skills essential in today’s workplace, but also a portable credential. WorkReady™ is an initiative of Maine’s Local Workforce Investment Boards and the Maine Department of Education and is supported by a statewide steering committee. The WorkReady™ Credential is endorsed by businesses throughout the state.
Many felt that the best part of the program was having the support of each other. Job hunting can be an isolating experience, especially in an age of online applications.
“It was the people,” said Anne Counts of Arundel, when asked what she thought was the best part of the program. “I felt so isolated, everything is online.” Counts has been out of a job for a year, having worked as a store manager in Kennebunk. She either wants to go back to retail, or teach preschool, she said.
Graduates can use the certificate when applying for a job. Each one learned job-seeking sills, listened to experts in the field and met potential employers. Each left with a finished cover letter and resume. “Over several weeks, we’ve seen students make a huge amount of progress,” said Amanda Cutrer, Work Ready™ Facilitator. “Best of all, they’ve become a great support for each other.” While the name “WorkReady™” may imply that the program is designed for individuals with little to no work experience, it is actually highly applicable to a wide variety of individuals with varying degrees of training, education, and occupational skills.
This Work Ready™ class was funded by a grant awarded to four local adult education programs, Wells-Ogunquit, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel, Kittery, and York. While the course was held in York, participants were from 7 towns in the seacoast area. They ranged in age from 18 to 61 and had a wide range of prior education and employment history.
Area businesses that partnered with adult education and conducted mock interviews, tours or presentations to participants included York Hospital, Kennebunk Savings Bank, Human Capital Corporation of Portsmouth, The Goldenrod of York Beach, Bonney Staffing Center, Goodwill Industries of NNE, Hannaford, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the Kittery Trading Post. Other community organizations that assisted with the training included Women, Work & Community, York County CASH, Consumer Credit Counseling Services, NextStep Up Career Coaching, Finance Authority of Maine, Noble Adult & Community Education and Saco/OOB Adult & Community Education.
The graduates are Anthony Donoghue, Debra Cobain, Patricia Pfeffer and Barbara Sanford of Wells, Anne Counts of Arundel, Alicia Perry, Maurice Gauthier, Michael Ford, Judith Lincoln and Timothy Finnigan of Kittery, Heather Danforth and Barbara Holden of York, Laurence Brown of South Berwick and Lisa Gianotti of Rolliinsford, NH.
The four adult education programs are hoping to offer the training again in the fall. First they have to secure funding. For more information about Work Ready™ or to place your name on a list for a future training in the area, contact Mary Angelini at Wells-Ogunquit Adult Community Education, 646-4565 or
Photo caption: Back row from Left to Right: Anthony Donoghue, Patricia Pfeffer, Timothy Finnegan, Maurice Gauthier, Michael Ford. Front Row from Left to Right: Amanda Cutrer, Alicia Perry, Heather Danforth, Judith Lincoln, Laurence Brown, Eleanor Holden, Anne Counts, Lisa Gianotti. (Courtesy photo)

Kennebunk Community Garden Committee Looks to its Second Season

The Town of Kennebunk’s Community Garden Committee is pleased to announce that it is now accepting rental applications for the 2010 season. Anyone interested in renting plots may register during regular Town Hall business hours. An individual or a family living at the same address may rent one or two seasonal 10’ X 10’ plots. The rental fee for the 2010 season is $25 for a 10’ X 10’ plot or $50 for a 10’ x 20’. Plots will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to register early as the Committee expects to sell out quickly. (For additional information, including rules, regulations and educational materials, or to download the three application forms, visit Planting is expected to begin Memorial Day weekend.
The garden is located at the end of Holland Road between the Animal Welfare Society (AWS) and the tennis courts in West Kennebunk. It has been developed in partnership with AWS and the Town of Kennebunk. AWS has allowed the Committee to use its land for the garden, while the Town of Kennebunk was instrumental in helping get the garden off to a great start last year and is continuing to support the Committee at every turn.
The Committee has been working hard over this past winter to ensure that all renters have a successful growing season. Toward this end, the soil is being amended with 100 yards of organic compost. Plans are also underway for the construction of a new garden shed to house tools and supplies; students from Kennebunk High School are volunteering their time to build the structure and Deering Lumber in Kennebunk is supporting their efforts. In addition, the Town of Kennebunk will install a more permanent fence and move the water spigot to the center of the garden. The area just outside the fence will also be treated for ticks.
In addition to approximately 44 individual plots, a large part of the area is dedicated to raising produce for local food banks and shelters. Renters are required to donate a minimum of six hours to the community garden, as stated in the Kennebunk Community Garden Guidelines. “This year, however, we plan to have more structured blocks of time during which a garden committee member or volunteer will be on hand to direct specific job activities, which include tending the community food program section of the garden,” says Committee Chairperson Bevan Davies. “Despite the tomato blight, last year we donated 500 pounds of produce to local food programs, and we are really hoping for even more this year.”

Friday, April 2, 2010

Our Earth – Our Future – Our Chance to Make a Difference at Noble Middle School

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
This spring, a group of seventh and eighth graders at the Noble Middle School are planting a vegetable garden on a couple of four by 12-foot plots in front of the school. That may not sound significant, but it is. The plots are part of a year-long project by the teacher Cathy Mende and the school’s Green Team to reduce the amount of left-over’s from the school cafeteria that end up in a landfill and compost them instead. The resulting compost will be used to enrich the soil in which the vegetable garden will be planted. Those vegetables, then, will make their way to the school cafeteria next fall, thus completing the cycle.
“We got a mini-grant from the KIDS Consortium,” Mende said. “The grant is all about composting and turning it into a garden.”
The process began in the fall, when Mende’s team of seventh and eighth graders went to work in the cafeteria, monitoring the collection of left-over’s at lunch time.
“We have teams that collect food scraps and teachers’ coffee grounds in the cafeteria,” said seventh grader Ryan Babcock. “We have two compost tumblers to compost the food into soil.”
Working in teams, the kids collect uneaten vegetables for the tumblers, but not meat, fish or cheese products. Babcock and seventh graders Ruby Jones and Alyssa Flagg, for example, comprised one team doing cafeteria duty. The tumblers sit outside the cafeteria doors and are turned five revolutions each day by team members.
“We had over 200 pounds of food,” said Flagg.
Indeed, the group eventually ran out of space in the original tumblers and began to take the food to the high school. “They have an earth tub composter, and they’re also composting,” said Mende.
The composting project isn’t the only thing the group has been working on. With a goal of reducing the school’s overall generation of solid waste, there are plenty of other things as well. “We also started collecting bottles and cans to get recycling money,” Babcock said. “In the past 18 months, we collected 11,000 aluminum cans and 12,000 plastic bottles.”
Some of their work is meant to educate their peers. “We collected milk cartons,” said Emma McDonough-Doane, an eighth grader. “They couldn’t be recycled but we collected them anyway and set them out front so people could see how many we used.”
Flagg noted that conservation involved everyone at the school. “We’re doing a little with energy by replacing the windows on the side of the building and outing motion detectors (to activate lights) I the gym,” she said.
“There’s also more efficient lighting in the cafeteria,” said Mende.
Mende noted that conservation was a school-district wide activity. Besides the composting at the high school, she noted that the Knowlton School had solar panels for energy and also operated a green house. That green house is where Mende’s team will get the seedlings for its garden plants.
“We’ll plant in early May,” said eighth grader Ashley Cox. “We’ll use seedlings and start from scratch.”
What happens to the garden after the school year ends? “We need to figure out who will take care of the garden when school’s out,” Mende said. “We’ll have a plan by June. This is a new undertaking. We haven’t done anything like this before.”
One thing, though, is likely. When the middle school kids dig in to their vegetables next fall in the cafeteria, they’ll know where they came from, the ultimate in locally grown food.
And for that, they can thank Mende and the 26 members of the Green Team at Noble Middle School.
Photo caption: The Noble Middle School Green Team hopes to grow vegetables in the school’s first ever garden this spring. (Courtesy photo)

High Art High Crime

By Chip Schrader
Book Review Editor
“Paganini’s Ghost” is English author Paul Adam’s tenth novel that mixes history, intrigue, politics and music to make an addictive read.
Niccolo Paganini was a virtuoso violinist from nineteenth century Italy. Paganini won the affections of many women with violin compositions and skill that very few violinists to this day could master. His legend is tied in with the famed violin makers Stradivarius and Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri of Cremona, and most famously, with the devil himself.
Paganini’s talent and debaucheries had merited a legend that he sold his soul to the devil to play so well. While this is a fallacy, he had a past, and one particular lover, Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi (Napoleon’s married sister), who introduces a greater intrigue into this story.
All of this history is woven into the modern day mystery involving a missing Russian violinist, Yevgeny, whose overbearing mother stifles the creativity and youth from him. Violin maker and narrator Gianni Castiglione met the prodigy when Paganini’s famed violin “Il Cannone” had a cracked bridge, as a result, Yevgeny immediately formed a bond for the middle aged man.
After Yevgeny’s concert, what appears to be a miniature violin turns up missing from a golden box. Not long after, Yevgeny is also missing in action. Detective Antonio Guastafeste quickly contacts Castiglione to lead him through the intricate details of violin construction, unscrupulous local dealers, and the numerous biographies on Paganini, Elisa, and violin makers to unlock the clues that could break not only the case of the missing instrument, but a mystery that has loomed over the ages.
Castiglione and Guastafeste travel through Italy and head to Paris to find the ties that Paganini left to solve the case. First is the missing violin they cannot find any record of, then a piece of composition that is unknown to almost every Paganini scholar. Meanwhile, they are hounded by Yevgeny’s mother as an hour grows into days of his unknown whereabouts. Did he finally get fed up with her, or did the thief who cleaned out the safe kidnap him?
At times Adam inserts history in large chunks. Those who enjoy learning about the craftsmanship of violins, violin music, or European history will find these sidebars easy to read through. Adam hasn’t quite achieved the ability to weave the historical aspects of the story in seamlessly, but he still keeps the details interesting and pointed.
Everything down to a safe combination refers back to one of Paganini’s compositions, and former music students would marvel at Castiglione’s knowledge of transposition to crack that code. But for those who just like a good mystery that has interesting characters, this novel will suit them just as well. A well-plotted and intriguing caper that only occasionally lags in pace, this book comes highly recommended.
Photo caption: Cover of Paganini’s Ghost by Paul Adams (Courtesy photo)

YCCC Inducts 23 Students into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society

York County Community College recently held the induction ceremony of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, where they honored 23 students for their outstanding academic records and achievements. The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society requires the following qualifications of its members: each member must be matriculated in an associate degree program, carry a minimum of six credit hours per semester, have earned at least 12 credits at YCCC in an associate’s degree program, and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25, and in order for each member to maintain their membership, they must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and carry six credit hours per semester.
The mission of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society is to recognize and encourage the academic achievement of two-year college students, and to provide opportunities for individual growth and development through participation in honors, leadership, service and fellowship programming. Today, Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in American higher education and is the official honor society for two-year colleges.
The new inductees are: Stephanie Bryant of Kennebunkport, Emily Downs of Kennebunk, Bryce Fountain of Cape Neddick, Marco Harding of Old Orchard Beach, Tyler Hobbs of Wells, Ashley Kadlik of Kennebunk, Brian Kurlycheck of Kennebunk, Jessi Lamontagne of Wells, Zachary Lemire of Eliot, Dorota McKay of Saco, Amber Meagher of York, Elizabeth Murphy of Kennebunk, Kelsey Palmitessa of Sanford, Samantha Parkhouse of Kittery, Michael Penna of Moody, Kelsey Quint of Wells, Robyn Reeves of Wells, Bianca Sturchio of North Berwick, Lily Sullivan of South Berwick, Brittany Thompson of Biddeford, Ted Trafton of Wells, Valerie Vrettos of Wells, Gao Xiong of Augusta. Also inducted as an honorary member, was Joseph Foster, YCCC Adjunct Faculty member.
York County Community College, established in 1994, is one of seven community colleges in the Maine Community College System. The college enrolls over 1,000 students in associate degrees and transfer programs and over 1,600 individuals in non-credit continuing education and professional development areas.
Photo caption: YCCC has inducted 23 students into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. (Courtesy photo)