Friday, May 28, 2010

Ogunquit Playhouse Gets “A Big Face Lift”

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
People attending plays at the Ogunquit Playhouse this year will be the beneficiaries of something they likely will not notice. During the off season, the Playhouse undertook a total reconstruction of its stage area and rigging counter weight system, upgrading the entire area with state of the art infrastructure and expanding the area of the stage floor. The project will permit the Playhouse to produce a wider array of plays than has been the case even in the recent past.
“The old girl got a big face lift,” said Executive Artistic Director Brad Kenney. “The rigging has 30 percent more ability to (lift). It’s state of the art with clean, manageable lines that can hold a myriad of things. And there’s an extra 12-foot depth at the center of the stage. That’s important for shows like “Chicago” and “The Sound of Music.”
Board member Peter Lewis helped oversee the work of the project.
“We tore out the stage, the cat walk - everything back stage has been replaced or fixed,” said Lewis. “In the last five years, shows have been a lot “heavier,” with more weight for the props. We replaced the old wooden infrastructure with a steel superstructure. We replaced the counterweight system. We now have the most sophisticated counterweight there is. This was a restoration of a system that needed to be replaced. We couldn’t have opened this year without this project. We were compromising the building.”
Project planning began in September 2009, with actual work beginning just after the first of the year. It was finished May 19. Scott Teas of TFH Architects of Portland designed the steel superstructure. Jim Stockman of Lighting Design, Inc. of Kennebunkport served as consultant for safety, operations, and efficiency. Paul Nolan of Major Theater of Quincy, Mass. designed and installed the rigging counterweight system. Warren Construction of South Freeport did the work.
“We used a professional review team,” Lewis said. “They worked with the board and staff and built it out for the next 20 years. It’s been built to accommodate wind shear and seismic activity. This structure would save this portion of the building in an earthquake. The steel posts go eight feet into the ground.”
Given that the work took place over the winter, a key decision was to build an extensive ramp into the rear of the building to transport the heavy equipment.
“We didn’t have to take the roof off in the winter to do the work,” Lewis said. “We brought the heavy equipment inside.”
This project follows on the heels of an upgrade to the building’s electrical system that was done four years ago. More work is planned.
“We have three, five, and 10 year vision plans,” Lewis said. “Things like enhancing the children’s theater to building a mezzanine in here, maybe winter offices. Additional seats would be a big thing.”
All of that requires planning and money. “The cost of this renovation was more than the original amount paid to John Lane (to purchase it),” Kenney said. “The project was under budget and on time. The building has been protected.”
Photo caption: Renovations at the Ogunquit Playhouse included installation of a state of the art rigging counter weight system. (Courtesy photo)

Veterans Families Honored in Blue Star Service Banner Presentation

It is an American tradition to display a Blue Star Service Banner in the window of your home when a son or daughter is proudly serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Blue Star Service Banner was designed and patented in 1917 by World War I Army Captain Robert L. Queisser of the 5th Ohio Infantry. Queisser’s two sons served on the front line. His banner quickly became the unofficial symbol for parents with a child in active military service. When displayed, the Blue Star Banner is a reminder to all of us that war touches every neighbor and every neighborhood.
Charles S. Hatch Post # 79 recently honored the families of twenty-two men and women from Berwick who are currently serving on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces. The family members of these service personnel were presented with Blue Star Banners for display in their homes. The blue star represents one family member serving, and a banner can have up to five stars. Banners with two blue stars were presented to Peter and Pattie Anderson for daughters Kayla and Kellie and to Paul and Peggy Diego, for sons Nicholas and Paul.
Blue Star Service Banners with a single star were presented to Glenda Gallant for SFC Raymond Bragdon, USA; Richard and Karen Cordier for SPC Patricia Cordier, USA; Donald and Gail Fortin for SSG Craig Durand, USA; Wendy Glick for 1Lt Warnie Glick, USA; Rick and Jacqueline Mueller for Timothy Mueller; Craig and Cynthia Plaisted for SN Cameron Plaisted, USN; John and Cynthia Poulin for SSG Zachary Poulin, USA.
Other Berwick personnel serving in the U.S. Armed Forces include PFC James Best, III, USA; CW4 Michael Derevjanik, USCG; Ryan Decker, USA; SGT William Gagnon, USA; Capt Linda Grant, USN, LT Matthew Hook, Geoffrey Koppel, SGT Andrew Marini, PFC Alicia Nutter, USA; Eric Ryea and Kevin Weeden.
Blue Star Service Banners were delivered to the families who could not attend the formal presentation.
Photo caption: A portion of the members of the families representing 22 individuals from Berwick presently serving on active duty with the U. S. Armed Forces who received Blue Star Banners from Charles S. Hatch Post #79. Seated (l-r) Gail Fortin, Jacqueline Mueller, Cynthia Plaisted, Lorraine Grant, Wendy Gick, Kim Tetu. Standing (l-r) Rick Mueller, John Poulin, Cynthia Poulin, Craig Plaisted, Glenda Gallant, Patty Anderson, Karen Cordier, Richard Cordier, Jr. (Courtesy photo)

Local Towns Observe Memorial Day with Parades, Services

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
Memorial Day will be marked by parades, speeches, and the laying of wreaths at memorials to those who fought and died in America’s Wars.
High and middle school bands will take part in the ceremonies and parades in most Southern Maine towns as will members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, police and fire departments and scouts of all ages.
Veterans of the more recent conflicts will also take part in the parades, most of which will conclude with ceremonies at war memorials or cemeteries.
VFW members, in some cases with the help of local scouts, have placed American flags on the graves of veterans in both public and private cemeteries. In South Berwick and York alone more than 2,000 flags have been placed honoring veterans.
Speakers for the events this year include Cmdr. Paul L. Dinius, captain of the USS Helena that is undergoing overhaul at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Cmdr. Dinius will speak in South Berwick, the host town of the Helena.
In York, Sgt. Maj. Andrew Binger, United States Marine Corp, retired, will speak and in Eliot the speaker will be Retired United States Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Downer.
The Second Annual Memorial Day Concert and Ceremony will be held at noon Saturday at Fort McClary State Park on Pepperrell Road in Kittery Point.
The original Memorial Day, then known as Decoration Day, was proclaimed by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1868 calling for the placing of flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. It was first called Memorial Day in 1882 and was then so proclaimed by President Johnson.
A partial list of parades and ceremonies planned for Monday include:
9 a.m. Parade from the Elementary School with services at the library following the smaller services at Mount Pleasant Cemetery and Brooks Cemetery.
1:45 p.m. Parade from Town Hall to Mousam River Bridge for services in memory of sailors and Marines. Parade to memorial monument for ceremonies and decoration.
9 a.m. Parade from the ambulance station on Walker Street to Orchard Grove Cemetery.
11 a.m. Parade from Bourne Lane on Shore Road to the square and Ogunquit River Bridge for remembrance of those lost at sea ceremony. Parade to Veteran’s Park for additional ceremony.
10 a.m. Bicycles decoration contest for K-3 students at Central School. 10:30 VFW Color Guard ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial at Town Hall. 11 a.m. Parade from Central School to the War Memorial at Portland Street.
9 a.m. Parade from Wells High School to Wells Corner and on to Ocean View Cemetery.
9 a.m. Parade from St. Christopher’s Church in York Village to First Parish Cemetery with laying of wreaths at memorials along the route.

Friday, May 21, 2010

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist

There was a lot of information revealed to Berwick Academy students last week by James B. Smith, a retired Air Force general, now the United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
One of the most unexpected is the increasing role of women in that oil-rich country and their impact on the country’s daily life and future.
Ambassador Smith, who served as assistant deputy commander for operations of the 4404th Provisional Wing stationed at Dhahran Air Base in Saudi Arabia, flying several combat sorties during Desert Storm during the Gulf War, noted that more than 60 percent of that country’s college enrollment is women, and last year more than 50 percent of the college graduates were women.
In addition there are more than 27,000 Saudis attending colleges in the United States.
“Young women want to contribute to the stability of their country,” he said, noting the growing influence of women. He said King Abdullah is especially influenced by his wife and daughters as he “drags his country kicking and screaming into the 21st century.”
A prime example of this trend is the establishment of a Women’s Empowerment Center in the middle of one of the most conservative towns in the country.
Ambassador Smith, a native of Salem, N.H., whose niece attends Berwick Academy, talked about a wide range of topics including the need for stability in the Middle East.
He told the students to learn about Yemen. That country is, he said, beset by internal unrest while at the same time out of both oil and water. “Your generation will know Yemen,” he said.
Smith, who was appointed to his position by President Obama, said the United States will continue to “stand up for Israel” but added that the Palestinians also “deserve a homeland.”
The basic problem, he said, was that the Palestinians want a homeland and Israel wants security and one will never happen without the other. Agreements in this area must be based on “respect and trust” and in order for that to occur “the people of the region have to recognize the right of the others to live there.”
Settlement is possible, he said, but the window will not last forever.
“I must be the new guy,” Ambassador Smith said, “because I’m still optimistic.”
The nuclear issue in Iran is also a front burner item because if Iran manages to become a nuclear power, five or six other nations in the region will follow that lead. The ambassador noted that President Obama is working for a nuclear free world and that makes the negotiations with Iran so important.
Ambassador Smith said the relationship between the Saudis and the United States began years ago and was based on oil for security, but over the intervening years that relationship has become “infinitely more complicated.”
He and his family have found the Saudis to be “a wonderfully warm people” and he stressed the “need for a close relationship” with them. One of his goals on his current trip is to establish a student exchange program, which would have American students traveling to Saudi Arabia and living there for a specific period of time while the Saudi counterparts are living and learning in the United States.
Despite their vast resources of oil, the Saudis are extremely active in the areas of alternative fuels and have had about the same progress as the United States.
“They are deeply committed to an alternative energy program,” he said, noting the government there wants to reduce the use of oil so it can be conserved and sold to other countries.
“We need an energy dialogue” with the Saudis, he said.
Ambassador Smith concluded by telling the students they “are much better (prepared) to face the world than I was. Involve yourself in something to make a difference.”
Photo caption: U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James B. Smith. (Courtesy photo)

Hollywood Exposed

By Chip Schrader
Book Review Editor
Bestselling author Chuck Palahniuk is best known for his novel “Fight Club,” which was adapted into a cult film fueled by gratuitous violence shot at a dazzling pace. His signature style is disjointed and involves characters living lives of depravity and profanity, so it was only a matter of time he’d be tackling the golden era of Hollywood. “Tell-All” is Palahniuk’s latest release set in a Hollywood when everything is left up to the imagination, including the lives of the stars. Those unfamiliar with his work might have seen his name during his stop at Portsmouth’s River Run Books two weeks ago reading from this book.
The first chapter depicts bizarre imagery that establishes the grotesque tone and characterization that resonates throughout the book, it is a scene from the play that is to reignite the career of the main character. The narrator Hazie Coogan is actress Katherine “Miss Kathie” Kenton’s assistant, who insists her life’s purpose is to preserve the actress’ glamour and glitz, although the reader might find the assistant herself has objectified this woman into a sort of walking and breathing shrine. The Chanel No. 5, cosmetic surgery addictions, and spouse hopping brings the reader to recall Mommy Dearest, Sunset Boulevard, and Elizabeth Taylor.
As with all social criticism, this book uses yesterday to put a mirror to today’s climate. As we see the nauseating use of pills, cosmetics, eating disorders, and promiscuity, we see clearly the reigning Queens of the TMI (or TMZ) generation: Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Britney Spears, to name a few.
As this book review generously drops names, Hazie and Miss Kathie drop names like a German blitzkrieg. Palahniuk’s name dropping continually jars the reader from catching the torrid storyline revealing that the best weapon in a speaker’s arsenal is distraction. All through, there are little goings on and descriptions that are worthy of shudders and cringes, but the bold referencing of Walter Winchell or Lillian Hellman immediately jerks the mind away from the unsavory imagery.
The second half of the novel focuses on the graphic love affair depicted in Webster Carlton Westward’s own tell all book that Miss Kathie seems to find handily as each revision shows a different grizzly demise for Miss Kathie. As her paranoia ensues, her career seems to get a second wind with the bizarre play of Miss Kathie playing Lillian Hellman fighting in WWII. All the while, Webster goes ragged with the ongoing domestic battles.
The prose is rugged with ideas and side notes interjected with a kaleidoscopic narration that weaves between a personal account and a faux screenplay that plays heavily with symbolism, wordplay and satire. This is not unusual for Palahniuk as he carries on the legacy of Kurt Vonnegut’s brand of shock satire, as his style and influences are best likened to Fusion Jazz. The wrongly attributed quotes and mistranslations are hilarious as the words seem to mock everything, including themselves, but also construct a very serious dialog about the roots of contemporary culture.
Photo caption: Cover of “Tell All” by Chuck Palahniuk. (Courtesy photo)

A Horse is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course. Unless…

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
Since the birth of what may be the smallest horse ever born in Barnstead, N.H., there is increased curiosity about miniature horses.
“They’re actual horses,” Lynn Baker of Little Brook Farm in Arundel said in a telephone interview this week. “The only difference is the size.”
Baker said miniature horses can be divided into two categories, Class A (30 to 34 inches in height) and Class B (34 to 38 inches in height). She noted that miniatures are measured in inches while horses are measured in hands, each hand about four inches.
Einstein, the pinto born at Tiz A Miniature Horse Farm owned by Judy Smith in Barnstead, was six pounds and 14 inches when born a few weeks ago.
“He’s doing great,” Charles Cantrell, one of his owners said in a telephone interview this week. “He’s an extremely healthy young man. We’re giving him everything he needs.”
Cantrell and Dr. Rachel Wagner, the other owner, expect Einstein to be between 17 to 22 inches tall when he’s fully grown in about two years.
The owners have begun the long, arduous process of qualifying Einstein with Guinness as the world’s smallest horse.
Baker said miniatures were bred originally “to work in the mines” because there was a need for a “strong, very sturdy horse to pull the carts out of the mines.”
She said “you can do everything you do with a full size horse, except adults can’t ride them.”
Baker, who has three miniatures and a mare who is expected to foal in the near future, said miniatures “are wonderful for kids” and while they need care, they are not as hard to care for as a full-size horse. They still require the same kinds of care. They make great pets.”
Baker said she has “always been in love with horses” but due to arthritis and joint disease, full-size animals would be hard for her to handle. That’s not the case with miniatures.
One problem with the miniatures, she said, is a tendency to become obese if not properly fed and exercised. Another problem, she said, is dwarfism.
Einstein has received a full examination from specialists, Cantrell said, to assure his safety. He said he and Dr. Wagner are aware of how rare a horse Einstein is and they consider his birth “an act of God” and “a gift.”
“His conformation is absolutely perfect,” Cantrell said. “Everything on him is perfect.”
There are three farms listed by the Miniature Horse Farm Directory on line. These include Little Brook Farm in Arundel, Funny Farm in Lebanon, and Maine Seacoast Miniatures in Cape Neddick.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Preliminary Plans for New Library to be Presented

The Town of South Berwick Building Committee and JCJ Architects will present preliminary schematic plans for the new South Berwick Public Library on Wednesday, May 19th, 6:30 p.m. at South Berwick Town Hall Auditorium. The plans for the new library that will be housed in the former St. Michael’s Church building on Young Street are the results of months of work by the Building Committee and JCJ Architects that included input from residents and library staff and volunteers. Tom Harmon, Chair of the Building Committee explains, “This meeting will give South Berwick citizens a chance to hear about the considerations that went into the preliminary plans and an opportunity to give feedback before we move on to more final drawings. Our goal is to end up with a library that is functional, comfortable, efficient to operate, and attractive.”
Beside showing the preliminary drawings, JCJ Architects and the Town Building Committee will explain what is being considered for a new library and why, how much the project will cost, and how it can be funded. South Berwick residents are encouraged to attend, ask question, and give suggestions.
Two years ago the Town of South Berwick purchased this key downtown property of over 2 acres with the intention of using the site for a much needed new library. The process since then has included engineering and architectural studies, resulting in the recommendation by the Building Committee to the Town Council that the church building be renovated for use as a library, with options for expansion. The advantages of renovation include lower cost and the inspiring space of the former sanctuary. JCJ Architects has worked with the Building Committee and the Library Director to come up with plans that combine function, comfort and flexibility. The building will be energy efficient, with state of the art insulation and heating.
Call the Library at 207-384-3308 or email for more information.
Photo caption: Preliminary plans for the new South Berwick Library will be presented on May 19. (Courtesy photo)

Community Supported Agriculture: A Model that Works for Consumers & Farmers

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
As people strive to include more locally produced food in their diets, Community Supported Agriculture, a program in which people buy “shares” in what a local farm produces, is growing in popularity. Essentially, farmers sell shares of the items they grow and produce to individuals and families before the growing season begins. Those families, then, visit the farm, usually weekly, to pick up their “bundle” of products. The bundles vary depending on the range of food the farm produces and what’s harvested at a particular time of year.
“Community Supported Agriculture has evolved and spread in the United States over the past 25 years,” said Melissa White Pillsbury, Marketing Coordinator for the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. “It started as a community generated activity, where consumers grouped together and approached the farmer. Now it’s more farmer generated. They see it as a viable marketing strategy and a diversified income stream. The farm gets help with cash flow and operating capital for start up costs instead of using a credit card or getting some other type of loan.”
Riverside Farm of North Berwick is entering its first year in the program. Farmer Gregg Harrington said using the model makes good marketing sense. “In the seacoast area, there’s a tremendous amount of interest in eating local,” he said. “A CSA allows us to get into growing our customer relationships. It’s a way to work outside our traditional customer base. We do the majority of our retail out of the farm stand. With the CSA, we’re trying to reach out to a new segment of the market.”
CSAs vary widely from farm to farm, White Pillsbury said. “There are as many models as there are farms,” she said. ‘The CSA ‘culture’ is that each farm structures the program to meet its needs and customer base. There’s no one model. There’s a different mix of products based on the individual customer base (the farm) appeals to.”
Harrington, for example, said Riverside Farm did not offer share holders a defined basket of goods each week. “They can pick from whatever vegetables are available,” he said. ‘We also open up flowers and plants. We’re a commercial kitchen, so baked bread and jams are included. We also include local eggs and honey that we pick up. People can focus as much of their share on a single product if they want. That makes us a little different.”
Two-Toad Farm in Lebanon also participates and is beginning its second year. “We offer Monday and Thursday pick up days,” said Jordan Pike of Two Toad farm. “We grow produce and harvest what’s ready and divide it up. It evolves over the summer. We have already counted over 100 varieties of vegetables and will plant probably around 200.”
Bill Fletcher of Finson Farm in South Berwick uses another model, one that was characteristic of early CSA’s. “We still have the members come in and do the work,” Fletcher, who started farming after he retired, said. “The members do most of the weeding, harvesting, and keep up with a lot of the routine work. We have 30 families and grow vegetables and have a little honey at the end of the season.”
The key feature is that the CSA engages the customer in the business of farming as well as providing local food. “The share holders are incurring some of the risk with the farmer,” said Harrington. “The CSA is great because there are people willing to support local agriculture. It wouldn’t work if not for people that wanted to support farmers like us. That they want to get involved and help a local farmer is most important.”
Pike echoed Harrington’s comments. “It’s a very good model,” he said. “We get operating funds in advance of the season so it helps limit borrowing. Without the CSA, I wouldn’t be able to grow produce at all. The customers get a good bargain and help support neighbors to have access as well.”
According to White Pillsbury, about 6,000 households and 155 farms in Maine participate in CSAs. The number of farms involved has roughly doubled in the past four years. The typical season runs from April through October, depending on what kinds of products the farm offers. Share prices can vary from a few hundred dollars to the low thousands, again depending on what the farm offers. For a listing of CSAs in York County and throughout Maine, visit
“I’ve enjoyed it,” said Fletcher, who’s in his ninth year as a CSA. “It‘s a way to keep a nice small farm active and the land open. And it gives me an excuse to drive a tractor.”

Goodall Reinstates Salaries

Goodall Hospital President/CEO Darlene Stromstad announced that due to improved financial performance over the past several months, the organization will reinstate the employee salary and benefit cuts made a year ago in response to the deteriorating economy.
Effective June 1, 2010, the start of a new budget year, salaries will be made whole and reductions to tuition, life insurance and pension will be reinstated. Additionally, the employees will have no increase in health or dental insurance contributions for the third year in a row.
“Our ability to do this while our economy is still in recovery is due to the hard work, dedication and sacrifices made by our employees. I am enormously proud of the progress we’ve made this past year,” Stromstad said.
Last March, Goodall made reductions in salary and benefits instead of contributing to the number of increasing layoffs across the state. “It was a hard decision and it was an unusual decision,” Stromstad said. “But based on the rapid deterioration of the economy in 2008 and 2009, we believed it was the right decision.”
Goodall Hospital Board of Trustee Chair Merilee Perkins echoed Stromstad’s praise of the staff’s contributions.
“The employees made great sacrifices for the communities we serve, ultimately putting the needs of the patients first. By focusing on the patients and through good, old fashioned Yankee frugality, our employees were instrumental in contributing to our improved finances,” Perkins said.
Last year, Goodall cut $5 million in expenses by eliminating all non-patient discretionary spending and through reductions in salaries and benefits. “Those cuts literally bought us the time to ‘right’ our organization. We’ve streamlined processes, we’ve grown, and we are running a tight operation. That just isn’t possible without the support and day to day involvement of staff at all levels,” Stromstad said.
“The Goodall Hospital employees – from service workers to the medical staff – are a shining example of the definition of professionalism and dedication. We couldn’t be any prouder of them,” Perkins said.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Noble High to Host Never Doubt Festival

Last July, Noble High School senior Sean Ashburn and English teacher Jen England were one of twelve student/educator teams selected nationwide to attend the Aspen Ideas Festival as part of the generous Bezos Scholars Program. The duo spent their week in Aspen, Colorado meeting with notables like Sandra Day O’Connor and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and attending presentations on technology, science, education, and international relations. As the Ideas Festival’s conclusion approached, the twelve Bezos Scholars were encouraged to spread their feelings of inspiration to their own communities through organizing a festival of their own. This was more than an option for Ashburn and England; after the experience of a lifetime, it was a necessary step to share their enthusiasm with the MSAD #60 community.
As soon as they returned home, the pair set forth preparing for the 1st annual Noble High School Never Doubt Festival. With this event, Ashburn’s vision is to remind his peers of the incredible power and potential they possess as young people. Under the mission statement, “Noble High School’s Never Doubt Festival is intended to inspire optimism and ambition in its participants, eliminating all doubts that students from a small town in Maine can achieve their dreams and change the world,” Ashburn applied for and received generous grants from Kennebunk Savings Bank, Pratt & Whitney, and the Bezos Family Foundation, who sponsor the festival. Months of planning will culminate on Tuesday, May 11 when the full-day event will transpire.
Working with the MSAD #60 Believe Committee, Ashburn and the festival planning team will be bringing in more than 60 community members to engage and encourage the Noble student body. The Never Doubt Festival plan includes a Noble alumni panel, facilitated discussion groups, an Opportunities Fair – where local presenters will share their journey and accomplishments - and an address from Eric L. Knowlton School principal Ron Robert. Professional speaker and MTV Made Coach Jeff Yalden will give the keynote presentation to conclude the event.
The planning team has recognized the amazing opportunities and experiences that surround our area and are utilizing personal contacts to share those opportunities with students. The hope is for Noble students to return home May 11 confident that their futures are nothing short of promising.
Jeff Yalden is from Sagamore Beach, MA and has spoken to more than 4,500 youth audiences in all 50 states and representing over 48 different countries. His timely message about life and purpose is delivered with humor and hard-hitting honesty to high school and middle school-aged students around the world.
A solid motivator and educator, Yalden is a role model for youth with which he is comfortable: Yalden has spent the last twelve years touring the world, coaching and delivering his highly motivational speech to youth, educators and parents to make better life and family choices. He has saved lives and impacted youth to live a life of purpose and commitment.
So effective is Yalden’s work, in fact, the National Speaker’s Association has awarded him its highest honor. In 2002, the organization granted Yalden the title of Certified Speaking Professional. Less than 7% of professional Speakers worldwide carry the designation. Also, MTV called his show their best show in the six seasons of taping MTV MADE. His show was the longest running show seen by over 70 million youth.

Coastal Clovers 4-H Club Kicks off Foods for Families Project

The Coastal Clovers 4-H club kicked off the 2010 Foods for Families project on April 25 with a meeting at Coastal Landscaping and Garden Center. Owners David and Carol Bridges open the doors each year and donate surplus seedlings. The kids meet in one of the many greenhouses and fill trays with soil and then transplant the seedlings. From there the seedlings will be held in a small hot house for the next few weeks. Then the kids will get together at Zach’s Farm and plant them into the ground where they will mature and be harvested for local food pantries.
Last season the kids grew nearly 4,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables for local food pantries. Club leader Russ Osgood said, “With the help of local business like Coastal Landscaping & Garden Center, Zach’s Farm, and the many donations we receive we have been able to produce enough fresh produce to feed over 50 families. We are pleased that we can partner with so many great people.”
The club is planning on adding early and late season crops this year too. The club received a Harvest Fund Grant from Maine Initiatives for hoops and covers that will allow the club to grow crops that like a warmer climate. “We plan on growing things like sweet potatoes this year and this grant will help make that possible,” Osgood said.
With the hundreds of seedlings started and the many early season crops already in their raised beds the pantry should be seeing donations by mid May.
Photo caption: The Coastal Clovers 4-H Club kicked off this year’s Foods for Families effort on April 25. (Courtesy photo)

UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine Acknowledged

US News & World Report (USNWR) has released its annual report ranking professional graduate school disciplines, including medicine and its various specialties. University of New England’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE-COM) was recognized as sixth in the nation for its leadership in primary care training, as well as its rural medicine and geriatrics programs, both earning top-20 honors.
Since its founding in 1978, UNE-COM has graduated nearly 2,400 physician alumni. Of all licensed physicians in Maine, more have graduated from UNECOM than any other medical school in the world. UNE’s commitment to the education of primary care physicians is unmatched by any other medical school in New England, and the USNWR ranking now places it among the best in the nation.
The overall rankings include 20 accredited schools of osteopathic (DO granting) medicine, as well as 126 accredited allopathic (MD granting) programs. The rankings are based on expert opinions about program quality and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research, and students. Highlights of the 2011 graduate school rankings are published in the May print issue of U.S. News & World Report.
Primary care resident training: UNE ranked 6th UNE-COM’s mission of educating the nation’s primary care leaders is reflected in the US News rankings, which rank the College as sixth in the nation for schools that turn out the most graduates entering primary care residency training programs. These programs include family medicine, general internal medicine and pediatrics. This ranking is borne out by the following statistics: 10 percent of all practicing physicians in the state of Maine, and 15 percent of Maine’s primary care physician workforce, are UNE-COM graduates; more than 60 percent of UNE-COM graduates practice in a primary care specialty (family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics), where Maine’s needs are the greatest.
For the US News specialty rankings, medical school deans and senior faculty selected the best programs using peer assessment surveys. Two UNE-COM programs made the top-20 list.
Specialty rankings: Rural Medicine: UNE ranked 17th The substantial shortage of primary care physicians nationwide is more significant in underserved areas and among vulnerable populations. Through a partnership with the Maine Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Network, headquartered on the UNE campus, UNE-COM reinforces its commitment to rural primary care in Maine by requiring clinical training for students in rural and underserved areas. Consequently, many graduates choose to remain in rural areas after graduation, as recognized in the US News ranking. Moreover, 5 percent of physicians practicing in Maine’s rural areas are UNE-COM graduates and17 percent of UNE-COM graduates are practicing in medically underserved areas of New England.
Specialty rankings: Geriatrics: UNE ranked 20th In the Best Medical Schools specialty ranking for geriatrics, UNE-COM’s Geriatric Medicine program was ranked 20th nationwide. Its innovative curriculum includes the nationally recognized “Learning by Living” program, which places medical students in area nursing homes to live the lives of a resident; and U-ExCEL, a fitness program that was recently awarded the Maine Governor’s Council on Physical Activity 2010 Maine Fitness Award in the Special Populations Category.
The survey data also showed that UNE-COM students bear some of the highest debt in the nation. Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, Marc B. Hahn, DO announced a strategic plan for UNE-COM in January 2010 which includes a plan to address student debt through planned strategic growth in class size and an increase in mission-specific activities.
Dr. Hahn also stated: “UNE-COM’s Patient-First Curriculum focuses on creating outstanding physicians who are health care leaders that advance primary care and community health. I am pleased by the US News & World Report rankings and our peer recognition, which demonstrate not only the effectiveness of UNE-COM’s mission with regard to primary care education, but also our leadership in rural practice and geriatric medicine.”
For more information, visit Article submitted by UNE-COM.