Friday, November 11, 2011

Scenic Landscaping Project to Begin on Mount A


A scenic landscaping project at the summit of Mount Agamenticus is on target to begin this month.

The project will restore and enhance views of the eastern seacoast, inland ponds and distant mountain ranges for the over 30,000 people that visit the area each year.

The cutting is scheduled to begin November 14 and is expected to take approximately three weeks to complete. Mount A’s summit, road, and trails will be closed to public use Monday through Friday during this time. The area will be re-opened for public access on weekends throughout the operational period with the exception of temporary trail closures in sections as needed.

The Town of York and the York Water District have partnered with five other landowners in the Mount Agamenticus Conservation Region to protect the scenic and natural resources of the area including wildlife habitat and water quality while continuing to provide for safe and enjoyable access and sustainable recreation. These partners make up the Mount Agamenticus Steering Committee and include the Towns of York and South Berwick, the York Water District, the Nature Conservancy, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the York Land Trust, and the Great Works Regional Land Trust.

In 2009, the “Mt. Agamenticus Summit Guidelines for Usage” was developed by the Mt. Agamenticus Steering Committee with assistance from the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission and the Piscataqua Garden Club to create a vision and help guide the management of the summit area. The summit views were a major focus of this plan and approved recommendations included seeking the assistance of certified foresters for developing and/or maintaining the viewshed.

Wadsworth Woodlots, Inc., a consulting forestry firm and Murdough Logging N’ Excavation have been hired to conduct the work and will ensure good forest practices while improving the aesthetic scenic values at the summit of Mount Agamenticus.

Funding for this project comes in part from the Nathaniel Wheeler Trust.

Sprite® and Wells Community Break Ground on New Basketball Courts


Sprite and Coca-Cola representatives, Wells residents, local leaders and players from the Wells Recreation basketball programs came out Friday to break ground on the construction of the renovated courts at the Walter Marsh Recreation Area. Local youth will soon have a safer, cleaner place to play thanks to the $20,000 grant it earned through the support it got from Wells in the national Sprite Spark Parks Project.

“The renovations will make a huge difference in the court’s safety and appearance, but it was the excitement and happiness the youth expressed that made me most thankful for Sprite’s donation,” said Tina LeBlanc, Recreation Director, town of Wells. “It is so important for our community’s youth to have a place where they can have fun and get active with their friends.”

Joining Tina LeBlanc was Senator Ron Collins, Chairman of Selectmen Karl Ekstedt, and Wells Town Manager Jonathan Carter. The group accepted the $20,000 check on behalf of the Wells Parks & Recreation Department. They were joined by eager residents who had voted for the court to receive the improvement grant through the Sprite Spark Parks Project. The funding is going towards a complete overhaul of the courts, including a new playing surface, basketball backboards and nets, and a hand-painted mural by artist Steve Lavigne.

“Thanks to the effort by Tina LeBlanc and the residents of Wells, this recreation area will become a better, safer place for our youth to enjoy,” said Sen Collins.

Coca-Cola’s Maine State Manager David Dumont echoed the praise. “This community deserves this improvement and we at Southern Maine Coca-Cola are proud to play such a vital role in the communities that we are a part of.”

The Walter Marsh courts are just one of 21 basketball courts across the country that will receive a makeover through the Sprite Spark Parks Project, a multi-year commitment to build and restore play environments where community members can get outside and be active. Sprite will invest approximately $2 million into building or revamping more than 150 basketball courts, community spaces, playgrounds and athletic fields in cities across America throughout 2011. As a result, an estimated one million young people will have greater access to clean, safe and fun places to play for years to come.

Photo Caption: Karl Ekstedt (Chairman of Selectmen), David Dumont (Coca-Cola), Christine Boettcher (Coca-Cola), Tina LeBlanc (Wells Recreation Director), Al Haart (Coca-Cola) and Jonathan Carter (Wells Town Manager), breaking ground. (Courtesy photo)

Chip’s Picks for Kids: Three Picture Books for the Family

By Chip Schrader
Staff Book Critic


The first book is “Mirror,” by Jeannie Baker. “Mirror” begins with a paragraph about two boys, one from a city in Australia, and the other who lives in Morocco. The book is actually constructed like a mirror as the pages to the Australian boy’s story are bound on the left, and the Moroccan boy’s life is depicted on the pages bound on the right.

As the reader flips through these pages simultaneously, they can compare each story. There are no words, but illustrations show how each boy’s life has the same situations, and they have different ways to fulfill similar needs. In Australia, the family works in the day, driving through the heavy traffic and the young boy goes through the bedtime ritual of being tucked in by his mother. On those same pages on the right side, the Moroccan child kneels upon his prayer rug and rides a camel through dirt pathways that weave between mountains that might resemble Australian skyscrapers. The agricultural and bartering culture of Morocco intersects with the Australian family as they go to a store to find “Magic Carpets.”

“Mirror” shows that what we might consider primitive culture runs parallel to Western civilization, and there is room for adult observers to even pick up on the inequities of modern commerce. Meanwhile, the point would not be lost on children. Being wordless, it invites conversation rather than straight ahead teaching, and opens up the age range of readers.

The illustrations are imaginative and innovative, constructed mostly of cloth and woodcarvings. The last page explains this process. “Mirror” is a deep, conscientious story presented in an amazing book that collectors will want to buy.

Reading level: Ages 5 and up. Hardcover: 48 pages. Publisher: Candlewick; Bilingual edition. (Courtesy book cover image)

“Blue Chameleon”

On the lighter side, “Blue Chameleon” by Emily Gravett will entice young readers with its simple illustrations and single word per page structure to encourage beginning readers. Words like “yellow,” “swirl” and “gray” correspond with creatures that wear these colors or shapes. The simple setup builds not only reading skills, but helps develop the logical skills children will need for comprehension.

As children learn to read the word on the page, there is an interactive step left for children to point out the yellow color on the banana, or the swirl on the snail’s shell. Patterns and snippets of dialog in balloons are also scattered throughout to add a little fun and friendliness to readers.

“Blue Chameleon” is beautifully sparse in illustration, at least until the end. But, its deceptive simplicity invites and engages readers into the puzzle of pattern recognition and builds cognitive skills for children in a playful, non-instructive way.

Hardcover: 32 pages. Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. (Courtesy book cover image)

“Interrupting Chicken”

Finally, on the silly side is David Ezra Stein’s “Interrupting Chicken.” This story depicts the timeless ritual of bedtime stories, but this time it is a father and daughter chicken. Promising not to interrupt, the father goes through three fairytales, and as we can expect, Little Chicken does not keep her promise. Just as each fairy tale is about to take a dangerous turn, Little Chicken interrupts and warns the characters of the impending danger.

When it comes to these fairy tales – Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood and Chicken Little – every reader, big and small, was a little chicken at one time or another, and thus is the brilliance of this book. Being a perfect bedtime story, the littlest readers will learn about the fairy tales, but get a shortened version that will bring a laugh instead of a fright. For the bigger readers, the humor and layers of cleverness are engaging, and will not make them lose sleep either.

The illustrations are a lush pastel like old oil paintings, the characters are cute, at least as cute as chickens can be, and Stein’s use of framing for the images to fit the story are well thought. “Interrupting Chicken” is a classic read-aloud story ideal for bedtime, and doesn’t require any interactive participation from the little chickens.

Reading level: Ages 4 and up. Hardcover: 40 pages. Publisher: Candlewick. (Courtesy book cover image)