Friday, December 30, 2011

New Perkinstown Commons Preserve in Wells

Residents of Wells, North Berwick and the greater region will be enjoying a new nature preserve in the New Year. After more than a decade of community efforts, the town of Wells purchased the former Granite State lands from Unitil Corporation on Thursday, December 22. Great Works Regional Land Trust will hold a conservation easement on the 288-acre property, which was renamed Perkinstown Commons.
“It was a team effort between the Land Trust, the Town of Wells Conservation Commission, Unitil, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, and other dedicated partners,” said Tin Smith, who is Stewardship Coordinator for the Wells Reserve and a Great Works’ Board Member. “More than 112 donors from 19 different communities, along with granting agencies, made this success possible.”
According to Unitil’s Media Relations Manager, Alec O’Meara, the company had inherited this tract of land as part of its purchase of Northern Utilities in 2008.
“Protecting open space, where possible, can have such value to a community and the quality of life of its residents,” said O’Meara. “We are thrilled to see the property end up in the hands of the Town of Wells and Great Works, where it will remain open and available for recreational use.”
Perkinstown Commons, named after one of the area’s historical families, is located off the Perry Oliver and Quarry roads in western Wells with a few acres in North Berwick. It is crossed on its southern boundary by a leg of the Eastern Trail, a scenic pathway being developed from Kittery to South Portland. The preserve features woodlands, wetlands, vernal pool and significant wildlife.
“The conservation easement with Great Works will help the town manage Perkinstown Commons for open space, recreation, education and ecotourism. I envision people of all ages enjoying its natural rural quality and abundant wildlife,” said Jon Carter, Wells’ Town Manager.
Wells Conservation Committee and a fundraising committee worked with Great Works Regional Land Trust and Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve to fund the $425,000 project. Town voters approved $200,000 from the town’s Open Space Fund.
Perkinstown Commons contains a mile of shoreline on West and Perkins brooks, both headwater streams for the Great Works River Watershed. A grant of $100,000 was awarded from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program (MNRCP) through a voluntary mitigation program managed by The Nature Conservancy on behalf of Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the US Army Corps of Engineers. “This program allows us to focus wetland mitigation funds in high priority areas like Perkinstown Commons,” said Alex Mas, Director of Strategic Partnerships at The Nature Conservancy, who manages the MNRCP program.
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded a $75,000 grant for creating a New England cottontail (NEC) rabbit habitat on 75 acres. The non-profit Wildlife Management Institute submitted the grant. According to Kate O’Brien, Wildlife Biologist at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, other endangered or diminishing species, such as the Blue-winged Warbler, Eastern Towhee, and American Woodcock, will also benefit.
Another $2,500 grant was awarded by the John Sage Foundation. The remaining funds were raised in a grass-roots campaign by individuals, businesses and organizations with a $20,000 challenge grant from a local real estate developer, Howard Hall.
“So many people devoted countless hours over the years, and they are all to be congratulated on this significant contribution to the town,” said Karl Ekstedt, chairman of the Board of Selectmen for Wells.
Community collaboration on Perkinstown Commons stems back to the late 1990s, when the so-called Granite State land was permitted, against local opposition, for the largest liquefied natural gas tank in the US. It was never built. Great Works, inspired by local support, secured the purchase and sale agreement from Unitil in 2010.
Perkinstown Commons will be improved with public trails and remain accessible for multiple educational outings and recreation, including skiing, hunting, and fishing. A public hike has already been scheduled for the early new year.
For more information, visit the Great Works Regional Land Trust site at To become a member, contact Patti Mitchem or Anne Gamble at
Photo caption: Left to right — Richard Clark, selectman; Larry Walden, town attorney; Jack Kareckas, board president of Great Works; Jon Carter, town manager; Patty Quinn, Unitil; Mike Livingston, town engineer; David Clark, neighbor who granted trail easement; Tin Smith, Wells Reserve’s stewardship coordinator and Great Works’ board member; Owen Grumbling, chair of Wells Conservation Commission. (Photo courtesy Great Works)

Benefit Being Held for Local Father Fighting Brain Cancer

Local Businesses, Artists, and Friends Band Together
Living Every Moment, a benefit concert for Paul Agakian, will be held at the Regatta Banquet and Conference Center off Rte 236 in Eliot, ME on Sunday, January 8, from 5 to 9 p.m.
Paul Agakian, a 34-year-old Durham native and South Berwick resident was recently diagnosed with an extremely rare and malignant form of brain cancer. The benefit is to help offset extensive medical expenses and assist in covering critical day-to-day costs for Paul’s two young children and wife Bailey, currently teaching social studies at Rochester Middle School.
The following musicians have donated their time to perform: Dan Blakeslee, TJ Wheeler, Dave Gerard, The New England Bluegrass Band Trio, Carri Coltrane, Full Chord Press, Bob Halperin and Mike Rogers, The Shaw Brothers with Taylor Whiteside, Billy Butler, Tim Theriault, Josh Jones, Dylan Schwartz-Wallach, and Paul’s brother, Roger Martin.
In addition to live music, Living Every Moment will feature a silent auction and raffles. Donated items include an exciting selection of artwork, crafts from local artisans, concert/game tickets, and gift certificates from seacoast establishments such as Cava, The Black Trumpet, Brazo, The Flower Kiosk, Pepperland Café, Indoor Ascent and many more.
This event is generously sponsored by The Regatta Banquet and Conference Center and Paul’s employer, NAPA Auto Parts, with poster art donated by Dan Blakeslee.
Tickets for the benefit are limited, and can be purchased in advance only for a suggested $25 donation, from Ganesh Imports in Portsmouth, NH, and Newburyport, MA, Seacoast Sewing on Route 1 in Portsmouth (Bowl-a-Rama Plaza), Flatbread Company (Sunday -Thursday) in downtown Portsmouth, NAPA Auto Parts in York, ME, or directly through Erin Tuveson, one of the event coordinators.
Donation cans have also been placed inside various businesses around the Seacoast. Please help us support this incredible family. Direct contributions are also welcome. For more information, please visit or contact (Courtesy photo of Paul and Bailey Agakian)

Jessica Lindgren Named Rider of the Year at Carlisle Academy

Carlisle Academy Integrative Equine Therapy & Sports recently celebrated the end of its 2011 inaugural season with a holiday party for its students, families, apprentices and friends. Year-end awards were celebrated amidst the cheerily decorated riding ring.
Jessica Lindgren, daughter of Leslie and Carl Lindgren of Kennebunk, was named 2011 Rider of the Year. A framed award honored Jessica’s commitment to riding, noting her perseverance, hard work and growth. Jess has been riding in the program since 1998, participating in both hippotherapy and adaptive riding.
“It is so important to acknowledge the incredible gains our students make,” said Sarah Armentrout, co-founder of the riding academy. “Overcoming multiple challenges, Jess arrives at the farm week after week. The moment she begins grooming her horse Onyx, a bright smile spreads across her face and all is right with the world. She has gone from needing the assistance of two sidewalkers in the early years to now working on riding independently.”
Awards were also given to Diane Zaitlin, of Saco, who received the Apprentice of the Year award, and two equine awards: Horse of the Year “Mabel” owned by Jessi Standish of Wells, and Rookie Horse of the Year “Zoe” who was recently donated to the program by Mary Giftos of Cape Elizabeth and Florida.
Carlisle Academy (formerly Equest) is a comprehensive riding school offering hippotherapy and adaptive programs, Para-Equestrian sports, as well as traditional equestrian training opportunities for educators, practitioners and riders alike. Carlisle Academy’s mission is to transform lives through horses through its distinctive services – rehabilitative through recreational – within an inclusive environment that fosters learning, growth and overall well-being. FMI visit
Photo caption: Jessica Lindgren of Kennebunk with her horse, Onyx. (Courtesy photo)