Friday, October 7, 2011

Tramuto Foundation Observes 10th Anniversary

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist

The Tramuto Foundation observed its 10th anniversary on Saturday, October 1 at the Beachmere Inn, to raise funds for its far-flung work.
More than 200 people showed up at the celebration that included a silent auction, and over $150,000 was raised.
“I’m just numbed,” Donato Tramuto, chairman of the Ogunquit Select Board and creator of the foundation, said in a telephone interview this week. “I knew we were going into it with a lot of momentum and lot of success, but this just beat my expectations.”
The foundation was established in 2001, following the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers in New York. Tramuto had planned to be on Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center, but made a last-minute decision to get on an earlier flight.
His close friends, Dan Brandhorst and his partner, Ron Gamboa, and their three-year old son, lost their lives in that crash. The foundation was established three weeks later.
The foundation provides grants to help youths with special challenges overcome adversity and build the confidence necessary to achieve personal excellence.
“We’re still counting, checks are still pouring in,” Tramuto said. “This is just really amazing. It says a lot about Ogunquit. It says a lot about the community.”
Honored at this year’s celebration were the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights represented by Kerry Kennedy; The Ogunquit Playhouse, represented by creative director Brad Kenney; The President Mary Jane England Scholarship at Regis College represented by Dr. England; The Iris Network represented by James R. Phipps, and the foundation itself.
The funds raised will allow the foundation to continue its work.
“We’ll be able to do wonderful things in third world countries, but also make a real difference in the local communities,” Tramuto said. “We will continue our commitment to the Regis College nursing program, where we give scholarships to needy students.
“We started the Ogunquit Playhouse hearing device program, which will now be extended and expanded and allow for sign language at each show.”
The successful fund-raiser will also allow continued support of the Iris Network, he said, a nonprofit group that helps visually impaired or blind people attain independence.
“The remaining dollars will flow into my foundation,” he said, “helping children get scholarships to go to college.”
“We’re basically about doing small things to help people do big things,” he concluded. “A big congratulations to everyone involved.”
As a child, Tramuto, founder, chief executive officer and vice chairman of Physicians Interactive Holding LLC, struggled with severe hearing loss. He overcame the obstacles to become a leader in the healthcare industry, elected official in Ogunquit, and board member serving on several prestigious boards.
He is passionate about inspiring others to realize their own dreams through dedication and hard work.
Other causes and organizations the foundation has helped in addition to those honored this year include Maine Special Olympics, Cambodia - The Sharing Foundation, Leukemia Society, Katrina, 3 Family’s, Walden Street School Foundation, Windbrush Farm, state of Maine Foster Children Program, AIDS Seacoast Foundation, American Diabetes Association, The Friends Project, Frannie Peabody Center, Seacoast Hospice, Camp Sunshine, Gastro-Intestinal Research, Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, and more.
(Molly McCoy contributed to this report)
Photo caption: Donato J. Tramuto, creator of the Tramuto Foundation, led a recent community fundraiser event, which has raised more than $150,000 to help a variety of charitable organizations. (Courtesy photo)

Key Link in Eastern Trail Opened, Dedicated

By Scott Andrews
Staff Columnist
It’s easier to get from Maine to Florida. At least if you’re walking or riding a bicycle.
A key link in that long and winding route, which stretches between Calais and Key West, was opened late last summer and officially dedicated last week.
On September 28, representatives of the Eastern Trail Alliance, the East Coast Greenway, Maine Turnpike Authority and the Maine Department of Transportation gathered with hundreds of guests — many of them students at the Kennebunk Elementary School — to dedicate the new bridge over the Maine Turnpike at Mile 26.3, just north of Exit 25 and the Kennebunk service plaza.
The bridge, which spans six lanes of traffic, was built at a cost of approximately $1.2 million. It links two sections of the Eastern Trail in Kennebunk. When completed, the Eastern Trail will provide a 65-mile off-road route for pedestrians and bicyclists between Kittery and South Portland, passing through 10 towns.
The 28-mile distance from Kennebunk to South Portland is now 75 percent complete, with another section in Scarborough due to open later this fall. The South Portland Green Belt will complete the distance to Portland.
Most of the projected route follows the abandoned right-of-way of the Eastern Railroad, which was last used in 1944. Although the tracks were ripped out and the railroad was abandoned, the property was never fragmented, thanks to the Unitil natural gas pipeline, which uses the former railroad. Unitil grants the Eastern Trail Alliance the right to use the property.
The Eastern Trail is part of an even grander scheme, the East Coast Greenway. The general concept behind the East Coast Greenway is to create a pedestrian pathway and off-road bicycle route roughly parallel to the famed Appalachian Trail. Whereas the AT connects high mountain peaks, the East Coast Greenway will connect — and run through — major cities.
The East Coast Greenway was first proposed in 1991. As currently envisioned, total mileage will be approximately 3,000, running between Calais, Maine, and Key West, Florida. Twenty-three percent of the total projected route in nine states plus the District of Columbia has been completed.
The Eastern Trail was first proposed in 1997 by John Andrews, a retired engineer from Saco, who remains the driving force behind the effort. Prior to last week, the largest project on the trail was a bridge over the Scarborough Marsh, which was opened in 2004.
Two more large bridges are needed between Kennebunk and Portland, one to cross the Saco River between Biddeford and Saco and the other to cross Route 1 in Scarborough. The latter is currently under construction.
At the dedication ceremony, Maine Turnpike executive director Peter Mills, a longtime jogger, spoke of the need for recreational opportunities such as the Eastern Trail.
“We need places in our cities and towns where we can get outdoors and feel safe from traffic,” he said. “The Eastern Trail is just such a place.”
Photo caption: On September 28, Kennebunk celeberated the newly dedicated Eastern Trail bridge, which spans the Maine Turnpike in Kennebunk. (Photo by Scott Andrews)

Third Annual Fall Eco-Fest at Clay Hill Farm

On Monday of Columbus Day weekend, October 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Clay Hill Farm will host its third annual Fall Eco-Fest; a free community event of green family fun. Kids activities include pumpkin painting, farm-wide scavenger hunt, fairy-house building, Earth crafts and family yoga. Artisans, local farms, green businesses, wellness advisors and community organizations will gather on the lawn and under the Big Top event tent courtesy of Sperry Tents Seacoast, to celebrate the season and share information to raise environmental awareness at this annual celebration.
WXGR will be spinning the tunes and broadcasting live, while Clay Hill Farm fires up the grill for all-natural burgers, locally made hot dogs and tasty treats. Sundaes at the Beach will be serving-up their homemade ice cream for the kids, and winners of Clay Hill Farm’s annual Green Wedding Giveaway will be at the festival to share their journeys and launch the 2012 challenge. Event sponsors of the Fall Eco-Fest include; Simply Green Biofuels, Shaklee, Acorn Organic Salon, Childlight Yoga, Green Maids, Gendron Construction and Nikoe Natural Therapies. Eco-Movement Hauling and Consulting will be on-hand to help make this festival a zero-waste event.
To watch the Eco-Fest video, view past event pictures and gather more information about this community event, visit Clay Hill Farm online,
Photo caption: Clay Hill Farm will host its 3rd annual Fall Eco-Fest on Monday, October 10. (Photo by Jeremy Heflin)