Friday, September 24, 2010

Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills to Speak at UNE

Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills – the only American ever to win the Olympic 10,000 meter run, and only the second Native American to do so worldwide – will speak at the University of New England Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. His lecture, “Global Unity Through Global Diversity,” will take place at UNE’s Biddeford Campus Center. It is free and open to the public.
Mills is an Oglala Sioux Indian whose given Native American name is Loves His Country. He was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Although Pine Ridge is rich in Native American culture and spirit, it is also recognized as one of the poorest communities in America.
Mills was orphaned by the age of 12 and raised by his grandmother. He attended Haskell Indian School, where he became involved in distance running, and earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Kansas. He was named an NCAA American cross country runner three times.
Upon graduation, Mills was commissioned an officer in the United States Marine Corps, and continued training for the Olympic team. He qualified for the 1964 Olympic team in two events, the marathon and the 10,000-meter run, and achieved one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history by defeating favorite Ron Clarke of Australia.
Mills was the subject of a major motion picture, “Running Brave,” and co-authored the book, “Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding,” with Nicholas Sparks. In 2005, Mills published his second book, “Lessons of a Lakota.” He has been inducted into the United States National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
Mills is the spokesperson for Running Strong for American Indian Youth, an organization that helps support projects that benefit the American Indian people, especially youth.
FMI: Lara Carlson, Ph.D., 602-2810 or visit
Photo caption: Billy Mills is an Olympic gold medalist who is the only American ever to win the Olympic 10,000 meter run, and only the second Native American to do so worldwide.. (Courtesy photo)

Producer of Naval Prison Documentaries Brings Family Histories to Life

Neil Novello, video producer of the recent documentary about the Portsmouth Naval Prison, “The Castle”, will be screening video clips and discussing his approach to producing family biographies at Traip Academy in Kittery on Thursday, September 30, 7-9 pm.
Novello’s career spans over twenty years producing a wide variety of video productions. His presentation will cover the filmmaking process with a focus on video biographies. Some of the topics covered include developing the family history for the medium, interviewing, gathering and organizing photos, and much more. In addition to Novello’s filmmaking tips, the video clips he will be showing cover a wide range of subjects and approaches to illustrate his presentation.
“We will be viewing clips which show the blending of different media, such as home movie footage, photos, newspaper articles and artifacts, for example, a World War Two experience of a Black Sheep Squadron pilot as told by his wife,” says Novello.
“In a way, I’ve been a family’s personalized Ken Burns of PBS’s Civil War fame,” says Novello. “You don’t have to be a celebrity to have an experience that’s important to remember.”
A Life Remembered is a Life Honored, the title of the event as well as the guiding principle of Novello’s family bios, will be part “how to” and part “entertaining” with a dash of “insight”. Admission is $8.00. To reserve a space, please contact Heather Thibodeau at or visit
Photo caption: Neil Novello is the video producer of the recent documentary about the Portsmouth Naval Prison, “The Castle” ( photo)

Maine Alpaca Open Farm Weekend is this Weekend

It’s that time of year again — 16 Alpaca farms across Maine are opening their barn doors to the public, offering an opportunity to see and even interact with these gentle and curious creatures, meet the owners, and learn about the business of alpaca farming and the attraction of the alpaca lifestyle.
Most farms have a farm store where visitors can purchase alpaca yarn or luxurious garments and accessories made from alpaca fiber, the quality and softness of which has been compared to cashmere. Specific items for sale include blankets, rugs, duvets, sweaters, hats, scarves and gloves from fiber that’s been grown in Maine.
The Alpaca Farms in southern York County who are involved in this event, held Saturday, Sept. 25 and Sunday, Sept. 26, include Alpaca Fields, Inc. in Berwick (Open 10-4 both days) and Blueberry Fields Alpaca Farm, LP in York (Open 10-4 Saturday only).
Photo caption: Eliot’s first sunbath at 6 hours old. (Pamela Harwood at Longwoods Alpaca Farm photo)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wells Reserve at Laudholm to launch EcoSports Day

The Wells Reserve at Laudholm is launching a new annual event to encourage people of all ages to get active, be fit, and go green while enjoying sports of the land, sea, and sky in one of Maine’s most beautiful locations.
The first EcoSports Day will be held rain or shine on Sunday, September 26, from 10 am to 3 pm at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. The event is free for Laudholm Trust members, $3 for non-members 17 and older, $1 for those 6 to 16, and free for children under 6.
According to Diana Joyner, president of the Laudholm Trust, attendees should be ready to participate in activities. “This is not just a vendor show where companies simply show products and services,” notes Joyner. “This is an active event where attendees are heavily encouraged to participate by trying out surfboards, paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, yoga or even zumba.”
Joyner notes that paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, yoga, zumba, fitness gear, and golf, are a few of several activities. This will also be an opportunity to ride in the tethered RE/MAX Realty One hot-air balloon above historic Laudholm Farm and the beautiful Little River estuary (additional fee).
The day begins with the second annual Laudholm 5K Run and 2.5K Walk. The run follows a scenic route mostly on the trails of the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. Sign-in starts at 9 am. The 5K Run and 2.5K Walk start at 10. Advance registration is preferred.
“The concept for EcoSports Day originated with our NextGen Council, a committee of young Laudholm Trust members who are taking an active role in planning exciting new events designed to promote active lifestyles and local businesses who share our mission,” says Joyner. “All of our vendors will be encouraging attendees to try out their equipment, experience their sports, and discover new ways to enjoy indoor and outdoor sports. We are hoping to attract people of all ages, especially young adults and families who want to become more involved in the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.”
According to Joyner, members of the Nor’easters Kite Flying Club will be hoping for a good breeze so they can display a variety of spectacular kites, flying techniques, and designs. The reggae group Pressure Points will perform between 11 am and 1 pm. New England Brisketeers will offer fresh-smoked barbecue and Duffy’s Tavern & Grill will serve beer and non-alcoholic beverages.
Vendors on hand for EcoSports Day will include Wheels n Waves, Liquid Dreams, Aquaholics, Sacred Movement Yoga, Purvida Studio, Kennebunkport Bicycle, Mim on a Whim, Hillcrest Golf, HydiGolf, Follow Delaine, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, Quest Fitness, Mountain View Golf, Southern Maine Aviation, Kennebunkport Marina, the RE/MAX Realty One Hot Air Balloon, Prime Toyota, and The Landing Boat School.
EcoSports Day is sponsored by Sevigney-Lyons Insurance Agency and Dietz Associates Inc, creative marketing and design. Proceeds from the event benefit Laudholm Trust, the nonprofit organization that supports coastal research, education, stewardship, and preservation at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The Wells Reserve is located at 342 Laudholm Farm Road, just off Routes 1 and 9 near the Wells-Kennebunk line and just 7 minutes from Maine Turnpike exit 19. The site boasts several historic buildings, excellent exhibits, and seven miles of easy hiking trails through fields and forests to salt marshes and a sandy beach.
For more information, visit or call 207-646-4521.
Photo caption: EcoSports Day offers attendees a chance to try out surfboards, paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, yoga or even zumba. (Courtesy photo)

Village Voices Come to Life at Counting House Museum

A new exhibition, Village Voices: Tales of Enterprise and Endurance, opens at the Counting House Museum on Saturday, September 25 for the remainder of the fall. The public is invited to a reception from 1:00 to 3:00 pm.
The largest expansion of display space in decades at the Counting House, Village Voices occupies the historic second-floor hall. The exhibit chronicles four centuries of enterprise in the region through the lives of residents who have shaped key trades. The role of ingenuity and adaptation in sustaining work life is a primary theme of the exhibit.
Stories of six individuals are presented: sawyer Humphrey Chadbourne, farmer Benjamin Gerrish, sea captain Theodore F. Jewett, shoemaker Francis Raynes, textile manufacturer Samuel Hale, and small business owner Placide Gagnon. Their tales are told using an array of historic objects, photographs, and maps that illustrate the transformation of work life in this region from 1630 to 2010. The display will be on view permanently.
Drawing on objects owned and used by local residents, curator Nina Maurer developed the exhibit, with guidance from academic historians Emerson Baker, Jeffrey Bolster, and Richard Candee. Local historians Nancy Cook and Bradley Fletcher also contributed as content advisors.
“For 400 years, generations of South Berwick residents have sought a connection with the greater world for their livelihood,” explained Maurer. “From shipping lumber to the West Indies in the 1700s to supplying fuel oil from Saudi Arabia today, enterprise entails risk--to homeland, habit, property and identity. Those risks have yielded wealth, but also misfortune. To six who ventured, success came through daring, but also endurance.”
The exhibition was supported by a grant from the South Berwick Strawberry Festival Committee. The exhibit is presented in display-storage cases custom made by Salmon Falls Woodworks of South Berwick and designed by architect Philip H. Kendrick. The cases were made possible by support from the Maine Humanities Council, P. Gagnon and Son, the Davis Family Foundation, the Maine State Museum’s New Century Community Program, and individual donors. The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation underwrote curatorial expenses.
The Portsmouth Athenaeum, Maine Maritime Museum and Maine Historical Society loaned collection items during fall 2010. The exhibit was designed by Susan Hamilton of Phineas Graphics, and conservators Michaela Neiro and Catherine Badot-Costello treated objects for display. Other project participants are research volunteers Margaret Brentano, Norma Keim, and Beth Tykodi; exhibit production volunteers Rick Coughlin and Dana Hughes; OBHS members Harland Goodwin, Sally Hunter, Dick Lunt, Gretchen Straub, Mary Vaughn, and Puff Uhlman; and project supervisor Wendy Pirsig.
The Counting House Museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 to 4:00 pm through the end of October, and year-round by appointment. More information can be obtained at 207-384-0000 or
Photo caption: The story of shoemaker Francis Raynes in South Berwick, is one of six tales of enterprise and endurance that trace the transformation of the town as shown in a new exhibit at the Counting House Museum. (Courtesy photo)

Pumpkin Patch Trolley Event Coming Soon

Seashore Trolley Museum will host its twelfth annual Pumpkin Patch Trolley event over the weekends: Sept. 25-26 and Oct. 2-3 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. This event is one of most anticipated in the community as it features a free pumpkin with each paid admission.
Pumpkin Patch passengers are transported to Meserve’s Crossing on one of the Museum’s authentic antique streetcars. After disembarking from the platform, passengers pick pumpkins from an adjacent field (at no charge beyond the regular admission fee). Children may choose to decorate their pumpkins with paints supplied by the Museum.
The pumpkins are then “checked” with Museum volunteers and transported back to the Museum Visitor Center. Pumpkin Patch passengers then choose between completing their round-trip ride and returning to the Museum campus to continue visiting the Museum’s exhibit barns, restoration shop, exhibit gallery, and Museum store. At the end of their museum experience, Pumpkin Patch visitors may match their claim check ticket to their pumpkins prior to leaving the Museum with their orange commodity. During rainy days, pumpkins and related activities are held in an exhibit barn and/or under a tent.
Pumpkin Patch Trolley has become a tradition for many local families. Riding a trolley on a crisp fall day, experiencing public transportation history, and picking the first pumpkin of the year add up to a great start to the upcoming Halloween season.
Kennebunk Savings is the proud sponsor of this event.
This year there is an additional treat for Pumpkin Patch visitors. A new exhibit titled “A Seat for Everyone” is being introduced. From our “History in Motion: Discovering History and Science through Public Transportation,” exhibit programming, this new exhibit focuses upon the Civil Rights chapter of transportation history. Visitors enter the interior of a 1964 Washington, DC bus and view student-produced art panels that express the artists’ feelings on the subject.
Kennebunk Savings and VIP Tour & Charter Bus Company are the proud sponsors of the exhibit.
Seashore Trolley Museum’s regular operating hours: Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Columbus Day and then weekends only until the end of October.
Regular admission: Adults - $8; Children 6 to 16: $5.50; Seniors; $6; Children under 5 – Free. Admission includes unlimited railway rides. Last trolley ride leaves at 4:15 p.m.
Photo caption: Kids decorate their pumpkins at the Seashore Trolley Museum’s annual Pumpkin Patch Trolley event. (Courtesy photo)

Friday, September 10, 2010

USS Virginia Arrives at Shipyard for Maintenance, Upgrades

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
She came up the river slowly, accompanied by security and tug boats, much to the delight of a small yet enthusiastic crowd of municipal officials, shipyard workers, members of the media, and, clearly not the least of these, family members of her crew.
While some saw the arrival of the attack submarine USS Virginia signifying a long future for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, there were those with a much more personal reason for welcoming her.
“Hi Daddy,” one of the small youngsters cried out several times as the boat made it way to its dock.
According to a shipyard spokeswoman, Virginia is the first of her class to arrive at the shipyard for work, and is scheduled for “a major availability consisting of various maintenance work and several systems upgrades.”
The bread and butter for the shipyard has been and remains work on the 688 Class (Los Angeles) submarines, Capt. L. Bryant Fuller, the shipyard commander, said. “One of these days it will be nothing but the Virginia Class,” he said, adding the Virginia class will eventually replace the 688’s.
Work on the Virginia class “is our future,” said Paul O’Connor, president of the yard’s Metal Trades Council, the largest union on the shipyard. He said the arrival of the new class of submarine is “another step in our history” at the shipyard that has been operating for more than 200 years.
Workers have received a lot of special training to prepare for work on the submarine.
Tom Ferrini, the Mayor of Portsmouth, also noted the historic event.
“It continues a long and storied tradition that we enjoy in Portsmouth and the seacoast of Maine and New Hampshire,” he said. “The city of the open door welcoming the submarine, its crew and their families. It means a lot to us economically, and we’re proud of our Naval shipyard to be able to maintain and improve its standing” in the military community as a fine facility.
Portsmouth is the host community for the Virginia and its crew. Chairman of the Host Committee is City Councilor Bob Lister and the former superintendent of Portsmouth schools. In the near future Lister will become the interim superintendent of Somersworth schools.
The USS Virginia, under the command of CMDR. Tim Salter of Buffalo, N.Y., has a crew of 13 officers and 121 enlisted personnel. The boat was built under a team agreement between General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Conn., and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding of Newport News, Va.
Commissioned in October 2004, Virginia is the sixth United States Navy vessel to be named for the 10th American state.
According to NAVSEA, Virginia is the fist of the newest class of nuclear powered attack submarines, built to excel in anti-submarine, anti-ship and strike warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare missions.
Cmdr. Salter is a 1992 graduate of MIT with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps.
He had served aboard the USS Salt Lake City, USS Greeneville, and USS Philadelphia. He has completed three deployments with USS Kitty Hawk Carrier Battle Group and one deployment with USS Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group.
He has also served on the staff of Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe. Most recently he attended the Naval War College where he earned a Masters of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies.
Photo caption: The USS Virginia arrived at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard last week. (Courtesy photo)

In Thin Ice

By Chip Schrader
Book Review Editor
“The Frozen Rabbi” is New York novelist and National Jewish Book Award winner Steve Stern’s novel that spans three centuries and two continents. Rabbi Eleizer ben Zephyr’s travels also span this time and space, but he spent most of it inside an ice cube discovered by Salo Karp in 1890, a shrewd businessman who bargained with a peddler for his own wife.
Karp became devoted to the preservation of this artifact, and it would eventually be discovered by a fifteen-year-old descendant, Bernie, in his Memphis basement one hundred and ten years later. Upon his parents learning of their son’s discovery, and eventual thawing of the holy man, young Bernie Karp loses weight and interest in school. In place of this, Bernie learns the mystical scriptures through the Rabbi and develops the skill of traveling out of his body, a talent that captures the affections of Lou, a gentile girl who has a passion for anything forbidden.
The subsequent chapters document a woman with a tragic past crossing the ocean posing as a man with the frozen man in tow, echoing the Barbara Streisand film Yentl, and an industrious inventor’s chance encounter with him/her to start a business around something he invented that didn’t end up a disaster. This and the Rabbi himself, awakening to modern day Memphis hooked on trashy television, and a business idea to transform the spirituality of humanity make for a comic blaze. As the old Rabbi finds a way to raise mischief with his new practice, the novel indicates that it may be harder than ever to be a moral person in this day and age, or possibly, that moral flexibility was the whole reason the Rabbi vanished in the first place.
The first forty pages of this novel are hard work. Getting a grasp of the far flung subject matter, and the generous use of Yiddish and Final Jeopardy worthy vocabulary take time. But there is a rhythm that eventually catches the readers and their imaginations. The only thing to beware, a half an hour can pass and only fifteen pages might get read. With that said, it is a fantastic journey, and a half an hour well spent.
Such a bizarre premise for a book needs much further explanation, but it takes nearly four hundred pages to narrow it down to any plausibility. The earthy and bodily humor of Bernie’s adolescence adds only a little more spice to an already zesty dish as Stern references Freud and Philip Roth’s “Portnoy’s Complaint,” tying this novel deeply into its Jewish literary roots. Not unlike the works of Roth, this novel rings with tremendous satire about modern life, lost innocence, and the loss of culture. A must read for Jewish fiction enthusiasts, and those who enjoy wit and carefully written fiction.
Photo caption: Cover image of “The Frozen Rabbi.” (Courtesy

Organizations Qualify for Assistance with Early Retiree Health Costs

A number of entities in Maine have qualified for assistance in paying for health care costs in a transitional provision of the federal health care law now in effect. All applications have not been reviewed as of this date, but already Unum Group and two public entities have been approved for assistance. This program, which is available on a first-come, first serve basis until the funding expires, will pay 80 percent of medical claims costs of early retirees, those age 55 and older who have retired but are not yet eligible for Medicare, for health benefits between $15,000 and $90,000.
“We all know that health care costs are a road block to job creation in Maine and the nation,” said Rep. Sharon Treat. Rep. Treat co-chairs the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Health Care Reform Opportunities and Implementation and the Joint Standing Committee on Insurance and Financial Services. “Early retirees are a cost driver in high premiums and this will help reduce expenses for tax payers and the private sector. This effort is one of the early economic benefits of the health care law that will be phased in over the coming months.”
Many early retirees are caught between not being eligible for Medicare because they are too young and having to try to purchase insurance in the individual market, which is very expensive. Too often these are the people who see their golden years and their hard-earned nest eggs disappear as medical costs mount. The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program will serve as a temporary effort until health insurance exchanges are phased into effect in 2014 and it is intended to provide much needed financial assistance for employers, including businesses, unions, state and local governments, and nonprofits, so retirees can get quality, affordable insurance.
To date, Unum Group, the Portland Water District and the University of Maine System have been approved. For updates on Maine groups that have been accepted, click here:
The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program is one of several provisions of the federal health care law that that are now in effect. These include tax credits for small businesses, relief for seniors from the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions, extending coverage for young adults, free preventive care and many consumer protections from insurance industry abuses.
Congress appropriated funding of $5 billion for the program as part of the Affordable Care act of 2010 to assist businesses in covering the costs of providing early retirees with health insurance coverage. Funds were made available on a first come, first served basis.
The reinsurance program is overseen by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. Applications for the program, as well as fact sheets and application assistance can be found at:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Historic New England to Celebrate Sarah Orne Jewett’s Birthday

The annual celebration of Maine author Sarah Orne Jewett’s birthday will take place on Sunday, Sept. 12, from 4-6 p.m. at Historic New England’s Sarah Orne Jewett House. Besides selected readings from the author’s work and the ever popular parsnip cake, the event will feature the unveiling of multiple pieces of Jewett family furniture installed in the museum just in time for the birthday celebration.
“This year there is extra to celebrate – the permanent return to the house of Jewett’s writing desk and a number of other important pieces of furniture that were removed some decades ago,” said site manager Peggy Wishart. “We’re thrilled to have these pieces back and to be able to make adjustments to the furniture plans in several rooms to mirror the look of the house as documented in 1931 photographs.”
Historic New England conservator Michaela Neiro will give a brief illustrated talk about the furniture and the restoration work undertaken to make the pieces museum ready. Neiro will remain on hand to chat with visitors as they tour the house.
“The readings are the heart of this event,” said Wishart. “Jewett’s masterful use of dialect, playful sense of humor, and keen ability to capture the everyday of late nineteenth century life never fails to delight listeners.”
Refreshments will include a parsnip cake, a purported favorite of the author.
The Sarah Orne Jewett Celebration will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on the grounds of the Sarah Orne Jewett House, at the intersection of Routes 4 and 236 in South Berwick. Admission for the event is $5 for Historic New England members and residents of the Berwicks, $10 for non-members/non-residents. Children under 12 are free. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling the Jewett House at 207-384-2454.
Photo caption: Sarah Orne Jewett at her writing desk - the same desk recently returned to the home and now on view. (Photo from Historic New England with permission of Harvard University Library)

Quimby Family Foundation Makes $40,000 Grant to OMAA

The Ogunquit Museum of American Art has received a $40,000 grant from the Quimby Family Foundation of Portland, Maine.
In applying for grant funding, Museum Director Ron Crusan noted that the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, with its location between greater Boston and Portland, is the only art museum that serves the population from northern Massachusetts through southern New Hampshire and southern Maine. The application further detailed efforts the Museum has made in achieving the goals of its Board’s 2008 strategic plan. These include efforts to increase the number of members, corporate partners and visitors, to raise awareness of the museum in the community and surrounding region and to enhance the visitors’ experience and programs.
The Quimby Family Foundation has agreed to fund the Museum’s efforts to improve the visitor experience, beginning with the development of a master plan for the OMAA building, grounds and parking. Funds may also be used for implementing that plan, particularly in the area of outdoor parking, lighting and signage and interior guest amenities including the replacement of the front desk and gallery benches.
In making the announcement, Hannah Quimby, member of the Board of the Quimby Family Foundation said, “Our board members have spent the last few months reviewing applications and making some very difficult decisions. Each year the grant cycle becomes more challenging as the amount of proposals increase and the economic climate remains challenging. The Ogunquit Museum of Art was selected to receive funding because your goals and mission most closely align with our foundation’s funding goals. We are truly inspired by the work that you have been doing in the state of Maine.”
Director Ron Crusan said, “We want to thank the Quimby Family Foundation for their foresight in helping the Ogunquit Museum of American Art achieve its goals. Broadening support through increased grant funding is essential for the future of the Museum, as is the actual planning for the future. This award helps the Board and the Museum do both.”

Lyons Named to MCHE Board

Dr. Charles Lyons, President of York County Community College, was recently appointed to the Maine Compact for Higher Education (MCHE) Board of Directors. The Maine Compact for Higher Education is a joint effort of the Maine Development Foundation and the Maine Community Foundation committed to raising educational attainment in Maine. Lyons was recently appointed to the New England College Council Board, also. (Courtesy photo)