Friday, February 12, 2010

A Chocolate Lover’s Dream in Ogunquit

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
There’s a buzz of activity at Harbor Candy Shop in Ogunquit these days. As Valentine’s Day approaches, owner Jean Foss and her staff are hard at work, preparing nearly 100 varieties of chocolate that have satisfied customers from near and far for over three decades.
“I started it because I wanted to live in Maine,” Foss said. “My parents had operated it as a seasonal business, open a few weeks a year. My father was very gifted when it came to making anything.”
The original seasonal shop was located near the Main Beach parking area, in the building that houses Huckleberry’s today. Foss moved it to its current Route 1 location.
“I put my mind to owning the real estate,” she said. “It grew gradually and now is open year round.”
Most people are familiar with the retail end of the operation, the shop that is a few doors north of the Village Food Market. What many people don’t know, however, is that the shop contains a veritable chocolate factory as well, where the staff creates by hand the turtles, truffles, fudge and other chocolate delights that have a national following.
“The store is known outside the state, maybe more than inside,” Foss said. “We have a mail order business from customers we pick up in the summer. 85 percent of our business is from the shop. That leads to the 10 to 15 percent of mail order and that sustains us in the winter.”
Foss said the key to producing excellent candy is a combination of things. “The recipe is important, but the ‘feel’ is watching the process as you go along,” she said. “It’s about trouble shooting. Once in a while you might notice that something might not be right, maybe the temperature or the humidity. Very few people know about chocolate. (Making it) is more complex than something like baking.”
Another key is freshness. “The shelf life varies by product,” Foss said. “Some kinds are good for two weeks, some for three, and some less. We make everything fresh. We try to keep freshness in mind all the time. Why sell something that’s really nice and then destroy it by virtue of your timing?”
The popularity of a particular variety varies by the time of year. “In the summer, people like classic, simple fudge,” Foss said. “Turtles are one of our best varieties. We make them all from scratch. There are no short cuts. That’s what brings people back.”
For Valentine’s Day, truffles take center stage. “They are the item,” said Foss. “Thirty years ago, we headed off to France to learn the basics of what a true truffle is. It must be fresh and kept cool. We throw them away after two weeks.”
Another characteristic of Harbor Candy is its ability to produce some of its chocolate without depending on traditional dairy products. That has earned the shop an award from the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). “We have a number of products that were already vegan, with no dairy or anything,” Foss said. “We developed a truffle by making it with soy milk. We have a milk chocolate made with rice milk. It is good for health reasons, for people who can’t use diary products.”
They key, though, is the care that Foss and the staff take to create their hand-made delicacies. “We’re small, not big and showy,” said Foss. “That’s how nice chocolate works.”
Photo caption: Harbor Candy Shop owner Jean Foss with a sampling of the nearly 100 varieties of chocolate the shop produces. (Jim Kanak photo)

“Shootin’ For a Cure” Wells Girls Basketball Program Raises 13K for York Hospital

On Jan. 16th, the entire girls’ basketball program in the Wells-Ogunquit C.S.D. participated in a special program called ‘Shootin’ for a Cure.’ When the day was over, $13,000 had been raised for the new Breast Care Center at York Hospital in Wells, which is due to be opened later in February.
Seventy-eight female athletes raised this staggering amount through donations and pledges, many of them $100 each. They also sold ‘Shootin’ For a Cure’ pink bracelets and t-shirts to fellow students and others. The various basketball teams also shot free throws from the foul line throughout the day in the Ronco Gymnasium at Wells High School. In the evening, after a junior varsity game and before a varsity game with Old Orchard Beach, a check was presented to Carol Campbell, RN, of York Hospital from Coaches Don Abbott, Kevin Fox and Pierce Cole.
Campbell is the leader for Breast Health Services at York Hospital in York and Wells. Along with Campbell, several other members of the York Hospital Breast Care Team attended including Kira Wendorf, M.D.
The idea for this fundraiser began with Coach Abbott, who is the Varsity Girls Basketball Coach. He had observed that the greater Wells community and several members of the District’s basketball community had been personally affected by breast cancer and he wanted something “civic minded” done by the athletes.
In September of 2009, Abbott formed a small committee of coaches to begin planning a fundraiser, a fundraiser that would involve all the girls in the entire girls’ basketball program. This included the 5th and 6th grade travel teams, the 7th and 8th grade teams, and the junior varsity and varsity teams at Wells High School.
Beginning at 9 a.m., and ending at 3 p.m., the various teams had the use of the gym for an hour each to allow team members to make 50 individual free throws from the foul line. The day ended in the evening with a varsity girls’ game between Wells and Old Orchard Beach.
Throughout the day, girls were dressed in pink, including pink tee shirts and shoelaces. At the varsity game in the evening, Wells team members and WHS Cheerleaders wore pink uniforms. The game was even played with a pink basketball.
“We had stuff going on all day,” said Abbott. He said numerous businesses had come in throughout the day and donated food for the players.
According to Abbott, the member from each team who raised the most money and the member from each team who scored the most free throws received prizes. Sophomore and Lady Warrior member Kelly Beisswanger made the most free throws with 47 out of 50.
Besides the many individual contributors, Abbott indicated that many groups supported the fundraising drive. For example, the Wrestling program at WHS pitched in $250 and the varsity girls’ team from OOB donated $175.
Time Warner Channel 3 in Wells recorded the varsity game and WMTW Channel 8 recorded footage for a 6 and 11 o’clock news story. At one point, radio station 98.7 FM The Bay was on site doing a live remote for two hours from the parking lot.
Webber Energy Fuels loaned their “pink” propane truck for publicity for the event.
“It was a long day but certainly a rewarding one,” summed up Abbott about the 9 to 9 day of basketball and fundraising. Abbott said, “It was great to involve girls from 10 years old and up through 18 year-olds; just to see the younger and the little kids being involved in it (was) pretty neat.”
Abbott wanted to acknowledge all who helped in this major fundraiser event. Some of those included Scott Lewia, Troy Brown, Marty Webb, Jay Audet, Judy Moody, Pat Foley (dressed as “Crusher” the lobster from the Maine Red Claws Basketball team), Karen Tufts and Nancy Colley. However, at one point in an interview, Abbott stressed that “90 percent” of the success of the fundraiser was “due to the girls.”
Photo caption: Lily Colley at left and Kelly Beisswanger at right are presenting $13,000 to Carol Campbell, RN, and leader for Breast Health Services of the York Hospital Breast Care team (at right). Holding the microphone is WHS teacher and coach Jay Audet. (Don Abbott photo)

Kittery School Committee Nominates New Superintendent

The Kittery School Committee is very pleased to announce that Allyn Hutton will be nominated as the new Superintendent of Schools to succeed retiring Superintendent Larry Littlefield starting July 1, 2010. Beginning its search for a new superintendent in October, the School Committee selected Ms. Hutton from a pool of nearly twenty candidates. At its regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 23 (re-scheduled from Feb. 16 due to school vacation), the School Committee is scheduled to take action to nominate and approve Ms. Hutton as Superintendent of Schools. Terms of her contract are being negotiated and will be made available when finalized.
Ms. Hutton says she is “eager and ready to be appointed as the Superintendent of Schools in a community that is focused on providing a quality educational experience for all students.” Dr. George Entwistle, a former Superintendent with whom Ms. Hutton has worked says: “Allyn demonstrates strong and effective leadership skills in guiding instruction, designing innovative educational programs and in day-to-day management in a challenging school environment.”
Ms. Hutton holds a Bachelors Degree in Social Sciences and a Masters Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Southern Maine. She earned her Superintendent Certificate from the University of Southern Maine in 2002. Starting her education career in MSAD #55, Kezar Falls, she taught at Sacopee Valley High School for 15 years before becoming the school’s Assistant Principal/Athletic Director for 4 years. Ms. Hutton then served as the Sacopee Valley High School Principal for 6 years when she became the Principal of Falmouth High School where she has been since 2002.
Ms. Hutton has been very active in her professional organizations. She has served on the Advisory Board for the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, Board of Directors for the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and Management Committee for the Maine Principals Association. Ms. Hutton was honored to be selected as the 2007 Maine High School Principal of the Year.
Kim Bedard, Kittery School Committee member who led the search process for the new Superintendent, says: “We had great support from the community, parents, staff, students and the Board in this process. It’s a great feeling to know that we are on track to continue the challenging and top-notch work in Kittery schools. We were fortunate to have excellent candidates to choose from, and I believe that Ms. Hutton has the background and leadership qualities we need in the Kittery School Department.”