Friday, March 30, 2012

York County Hunger Programs Receive Congressional Recognition


Representative Chellie Pingree in the U.S. House of Representatives recognized the Mothers and Others Against Hunger project and the York County Shelter Programs on Thursday, March 1.

In Rep. Pingree's remarks for the Congressional Record she stated: "Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize an incredible program in Maine, The Mothers and Others Against Hunger through the York County Shelter Programs. The York County Shelter Programs is a homeless services provider in Alfred that has been in operation for more than thirty-one years and continues to be an essential part of York County—over the years caring for thousands of Mainers. Maine is a state that has struggled with food insecurity and Mothers and Others Against Hunger is making great strides in eradicating hunger in Maine. Projects like this demonstrate Maine's unbreakable community bond in our fight against hunger today."

Pingree personally presented an official, framed recognition of her endorsement of the work of the York County Shelter Programs and Mothers and Others Against Hunger on Thursday, March 15, when she and her staff toured the Shelter buildings in Alfred and learned about their many programs that address Mainers in need.

Over one hundred businesses, agencies, and individuals have pledged to donate either $50 in food or a $50 donation to help support the work of the Mothers and Others Against Hunger project. A map has been set up on the Mothers and Others Against Hunger website ( depicting all the towns in Maine and New Hampshire that have pledged their support to this program.

Twenty-three of the twenty-nine York County towns already have participants in this hunger project. Pledges have been made from seven counties in Maine and New Hampshire, and from Arkansas, Iowa, Rhode Island and Vermont. Area businesses and individuals concerned about the issue of hunger are urged to consider joining this group.

The Mothers and Others Against Hunger group will host a Mother's Day Dessert and Tea in Alfred on Sunday, May 13, from 1 to 4pm. Proceeds from this event and from the Fifth Annual 5kRun /Two Mile Walk for the Homeless and the Hungry on Saturday, May 19, at Mother's Beach in Kennebunk, will benefit efforts to eradicate hunger. For additional information contact Mary Doyle at 207-793-2759 or email:

Photo Caption: York County Shelter Programs Executive Director Donald Gean discusses the Shelter's several feeding programs with U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree outside the Shelter's Bakery on March 15. (Photo courtesy of Mary Doyle)

York, South Berwick and Wells Police Departments Receive Federal Grant


While the next national and state wide Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, April 28, from 10am-2pm, police departments in the towns of York, Wells and South Berwick are now offering community members the opportunity to safely dispose of unused, unwanted or expired medications at any time.

Three MedReturn “Drug Lock” boxes were recently purchased for South Berwick, Wells and York police departments through a Drug Free Communities Grant from Choose To Be Healthy and with a donation from York Hospital.

The Drop Boxes are large green metal boxes located in the police departments’ waiting areas and entrances. All are secure, within eye and camera of a police officer and available to the public 24/7 for convenient and proper disposal. Area police will coordinate proper and safe disposal of the drugs collected in the Drug Lock Boxes on a regular basis.

Chief Dana LaJoie of South Berwick Police Department said that he “welcomes this addition as it allows for expedient and safe disposal. No longer do citizens have to be burdened with how to dispose of medications.” All three police departments—Wells, York and South Berwick—encourage people from surrounding communities to also take advantage of the new Drug Lock Boxes.

Sally Manninen, who coordinates the Drug Free Communities grant that helped pay for the MedReturn boxes, said when she asked York Hospital if it could help pay for the rest of the expensive boxes, Jud Knox, President of York Hospital and John Phyllis, Head of the Hospital Pharmacy both quickly agreed that it was a worthy effort.

In York County schools, 16 percent of the 9-12th graders surveyed reported abusing prescription drugs at least once in their lives (Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, 2011). The good news is this number has gone down from 20 percent in 2009. Restricting access to prescription drugs in the home and disposing of drugs properly is just part of the effort to prevent prescription drug abuse in our communities.

During the last Drug Take Back Day in October 2011, the State of Maine collected 14,120 pounds of drugs, ranking Maine number one per capita in the U.S. collection effort during each of the three previous national collection events. Here in nine communities of southern York County served by Choose To Be Healthy, police and community members collected almost 1200 pounds in last year’s April and October Drug Take Back Days.

The next National Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, April 28, from 10am-2pm. The event is anonymous and free. Area collection locations for April 28 include: Wells Ergent Care, Ogunquit Transfer Station, Hannaford in York, the Fire Station on Gorges Road in Kittery, the Police Stations in Eliot, Berwick and North Berwick, and the Community Center in South Berwick.

People are asked to remove any personal identifying info from labels. Medicine accepted includes prescription, over-the-counter or veterinary pills, drops and ointments. Police will not accept thermometers, batteries, durable medical equipment, intravenous solutions, injectables or illegal substances.

For more information, contact Sally Manninen, Choose To Be Healthy’s Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator at York Hospital’s Center for Community Health, at 207-439-2936. Go to the Drug Enforcement Administration DEA website for the National Drug Take Back Day drop off locations nearest you.

Final Winter Gateway Farmers’ Market This Saturday


This Saturday, March 31, marks the final date for this year’s Winter Farmers’ Market in York. Stop by and support your local farmers, food producers, artists and artisans. Pick up your usual market foods: fresh veggies, Maine maple syrup, breads, fish, baked goods, jams, granola, fresh eggs and locally raised pork, beef and chicken. They also have some select crafters participating with knitted goods, soaps, wood items and handcrafted jewelry.

The summer market will kick off its tenth season on Saturday, June 2, from 9-1pm here at the Chamber of Commerce with their new sponsor, When Pigs Fly. Keep your eyes and ears open for more information as the summer season approaches. The 2011/2012 Winter Gateway Farmers’ Market took place on eleven Saturdays between November and March, indoors at the American Legion (9 Hannaford Drive), in York. The market runs from 9am-12pm and there are 25-30 vendors each Saturday.

The Bank of Maine sponsors the market. Local decisions, local people, and a banking partner committed to providing exceptional service. Visit their website at

Check out for a complete list of participants and when they’ll be attending the market. For more information contact the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce at 207-363-4422.

Photos Caption: Linda of Archer Angus shows off her grass-fed beef at a recent Market. (Courtesy Photo)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Endures Through Recession

By Larry Favinger

Staff Columnist


While the economy of Southern Maine and Southeastern New Hampshire had its ups and downs during 2011, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard continued to be a huge, steady financial contributor to the local areas.

According to the Economic Impact Study released recently by the Seacoast Shipyard Association, the shipyard increased its employment, its civilian payroll, its military payroll, the purchases of more goods and services, and contracts in 2011.

The total of those activities is over $560 million.

Civilian employment at the Kittery yard has risen from 5,168 in 2010 to 5,187 last year with a corresponding increase in payroll. In 2011, workers earned $408,395,305 compared to $395, 166, 516 the year before.

Those figures break down to show $234,047,564 to 2,948 workers from Maine, $150,79,790 to 1,946 New Hampshire workers, $10,378,138 to 131 Massachusetts residents and $13,176,793 to workers from other states.

A breakdown of the number of employees in area towns and cities and the total payroll for them can be found in accompanying information boxes.

The number of civilian employees has risen each year since 1998 when there were 3,648 on the employment rolls.

The military payroll to the Navy and Coast Guard shows an increase over 2010 with $40,498,582 last year compared to $39,939,431 the previous year.

The shipyard purchased nearly $50 million in goods and services and over $63 million in contracted facility services, much of it from Maine and New Hampshire.

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the oldest of the Navy’s four remaining shipyards, is considered “the most efficient yard in the Navy”, according to Navy Capt. William McDonough, a retired shipyard commander, now a spokesman for the Seacoast Shipyard Association.

The Association is concerned about the possibility of the formation of another BRAC down the road to consider another round of facility closures across the military landscape.

McDonough said the economic study underlines that a closure of the shipyard would be “a devastating thing to the local economy, as well as the overall states of Maine and New Hampshire.”

McDonough noted the shipyard has “a good workload for the foreseeable future,” another positive situation. Following World War II the Navy had 11 shipyards but that number has since been reduced to four.

More good news for the shipyard is the recent awarding of two contracts totaling over $65 million for modernization work at the yard.

U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) welcomed the announcement.

“The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is an economic engine that drives the economy of southern Maine and New Hampshire," Sen. Collins a member of both the Senate Armed Services Committee and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee said. “I am pleased that the Navy recognizes the critical need for these investments at the shipyard. This will help improve the safety and efficiency of the terrific workforce that keeps our Nation's nuclear submarines ready for sea every day."

Sen. Shaheen and Sen. Ayotte are also members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“We have strongly advocated for the Navy to address critical infrastructure and modernization needs at the shipyard, and we’re pleased that this important work is now moving forward,” said the Senators in a joint statement. “The projects announced this month will make a significant dent in the facility modernization backlog and help improve safety and efficiency at Portsmouth, whose workers set the standard for maintaining our nation’s nuclear submarine fleet.

“We are pleased that the Navy has continued to recognize and correct the critical need for investments at Portsmouth.”

Waban Telethon Raises $80,000


The 41st Annual Waban Telethon was held on Saturday, March 17, at the St. Ignatius Gym on Riverside Avenue in Sanford. The St. Therese of Liseux Parish sponsored this year’s Telethon. Even though the economy continues to struggle, and though many people are constantly challenged by the increased cost of living and ballooning gas prices; the community once again rose to the challenge. In spite of a continued economic recession, individuals, businesses and organizations came together and demonstrated their unflagging support of the programs at Waban by raising $80,122!

This was the 41st Annual Telethon, and, in keeping with the work that the dedicated staff at Waban does day after day and year after year, the theme was “Making a Difference.” In addition to the wonderful entertainment, fun events throughout the day and ice cream donated by Shain’s of Maine, there were several special ceremonies. The entire Telethon was dedicated to Waban supporter and Metrocast producer of the Telethon, Richard Gould, who passed away early this year. Waban staff member Dot Jowett received the Waban Making a Difference Award for her dedicated and inspirational service. In the community category, the Waban Making a Difference Award was given to Andy “Penny Man” Normand for his tireless work over the past twenty years in collecting and rolling $120,895 worth of pennies for Waban, subsequently having that amount matched by General Electric.

A crew from Metrocast Cablevision produced the Telethon while Metrocast Cablevision and Time-Warner Cablevision provided coverage with an expanded viewing area going from Kittery to Presque Isle. Unified Technologies provided the phone bank. This year’s hosts were Kevin Mannix of WCSH-TV and long time volunteers Kristen Guillemette Perfetuo, and RJ and Jim Legere.

St. Therese of Liseux Parish donated the use of the St. Ignatius Gym.

In addition to large business donations of goods and services from Central Furniture and Landry’s Furniture, there were many other large and small personal and business donors, too numerous to mention, that were instrumental in making the Telethon such a huge success.

The funds from the Telethon will be used for developmental therapy, specialized equipment, assessment services, therapeutic recreation and other educational and habilitation-based services for children who attend the Fraser-Ford Waban Child Development Center or who receive services from the Case Management Program.

Waban is exceptionally grateful and appreciative for all the tremendous support they received from the volunteers and donors both before and during the Telethon.

Photo Caption: Hosts Kevin Mannix and Kristen Perfetuo joined the dancers from Jazz Tappin’ Dance Academy onstage for a dance lesson at the 41st Annual Waban Telethon in Sanford. (Courtesy Photo)

Green Wedding Giveaway Winners Announced


The winners in Clay Hill Farm’s fourth Green Wedding Giveaway® were announced at an intimate ceremony with finalists and local contest sponsors. Clay Hill Farm’s annual wedding contest encourages couples to explore the parallel between a commitment to each other and a commitment to the Earth. Additionally, the contest asks engaged couples to creatively “pick their shade” of green and share it with the world.

Jessica Maillet and Tim Caouette of Massachusetts were named the winners of the Green Wedding Giveaway 2012 for their outstanding everyday commitments to non-profits and local food initiatives. A July 8 wedding is planned for the couple at Clay Hill Farm, with a nuptial package to include: garden ceremony and catered reception for up to 75 guests, wedding florals, handmade invitations, photography, videography, accommodations, formalwear, hair and make-up, cake, DJ services, rehearsal luncheon, wellness package, favors, trolley transport and more.

In a surprise twist, head judge Battista Remati of Remati Media—joining the finale via Skype—announced a surprising second wedding package reward due to the raised bar by this year’s finalists’ inspirational magnitude and dedication to the people of the planet. Nita Mohanty and Anthony Acevez, of Illinois, were awarded the EcoReach® World Humanitarian award for outstanding global outreach. Mohanty and Acevez, a pediatrician and Chicago policeman respectively, have traveled the world helping children in impoverished countries. A late summer/early fall wedding will be planned for the couple at Clay Hill Farm.

“We are so honored and humbled by the ability of these two couples to give back locally and globally everyday,” said Jennifer Lewis-McShera, founder of the Green Wedding Giveaway. “Our social outreach has always been about celebrating real people making a difference through the natural beauty of relationships, but our winners this year have surpassed our expectations. It will be a privilege to celebrate their special day.”

Read more about the winners on the official contest website;

(Courtesy Photo)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Maine Red Claws/Maine McDonald’s Team of the Year Award Recipients Announced


At the Maine McDonald’s® High School Senior All-Star Basketball Games, on Saturday, March 10, the two Team of the Year Award recipients were unveiled. The Hampden Academy Boys Team and the Wells High School Girls Team each received the Team of the Year trophy as well as $1,000 for their schools’ basketball programs. Representatives from the Maine Red Claws, Maine McDonald’s and Maine Association of Basketball Coaches (MABC) made the announcement during half time at the All-Star Games.

“We are excited and honored to announce that the Hampden Academy Boys led by Coach Russ Bartlett and the Wells High School Girls, led by Coach Don Abbott, are our 2012 Team of the Year Award honorees. Both of these programs are shining examples of what it means to be named Team of the Year—excellence on the court and in the community,” stated Doug Quagliaroli, local McDonald’s Owner/Operator. “We are proud to partner with the Maine Red Claws in offering this award that will benefit these two outstanding high school basketball programs.”

Nominations for the 2012 Team of the Year award were submitted to the selection committee for review. The committee is comprised of representatives from Maine McDonald’s, Maine Red Claws and the MABC. The two teams were selected based on the stated criteria of having made “an exceptional impact on Maine High School Basketball and in the lives of others.”

“The Maine Red Claws are proud to partner with McDonald’s again this year on the Maine McDonald's and Maine Red Claws Team of the Year Award, and we are proud to recognize the Hampden Academy Boys and the Wells High School Girls teams with this year’s award,” said Red Claws President and General Manager Jon Jennings. “Each of these teams is a tremendous example of the impact that basketball can have on an individual and on a community as a whole. They show that a team can be not only competitive on the court but also have an equal and even more lasting impact off.”

Hard work and dedication on and off the court are words used to describe the Wells High School Girls Team. The Wells Girls have a deep understanding of team concept and are selfless in their play—one of many qualities that contributed to their success this year. The team is a close-knit group that plays the game with mental and physical toughness every day.

Along with teaching the game of basketball, Coach Abbott and his staff teach good sportsmanship and the importance of being a role model to younger players. In the last three years, the Wells Girls teams have raised more than $57,000 for Breast Cancer Living Well programs at York Hospital in Wells and York Hospital. This season alone they raised nearly $27,000 through their third annual Shootin’ for a Cure event and by partnering with the Wells Rotary Club’s annual golf tournament.

To quote a Wells Girls Team nominator, “The fact that each girl had an integral part in all that was done and that they learned how important it is to do for others…to serve, is a wonderful lesson being taught by Coach Abbott. I'm very impressed with these girls and this program.”

Photo Caption: Wells High School Girls’ Basketball, Maine McDonald’s Team of the Tear recipients, are pictured while at their “Shootin’ For A Cure” event on Saturday, January 14. (Courtesy Photo)

Jonathan's Restaurant Calls All Diners To Help With UNICEF TAP Project


In 2007, the UNICEF Tap Project was born in New York City. Based upon a simple concept, the Project asked that restaurants ask their patrons to donate $1 or more for the tap water they usually enjoy for free, and all of the funds raised would support UNICEF's efforts to bring clean and accessible water to millions of children around the world.

Since its inception in 2007, the UNICEF Tap Project has raised nearly $3 million in the U.S. and has helped provide clean water for millions of children globally. Now in its sixth year, the award-winning UNICEF Tap Project—a nationwide campaign sponsored by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF—will return during World Water Week, March 19-25. The first program of its kind, the UNICEF Tap Project has become a dynamic movement that affords everyone the opportunity to help provide the world's children with safe, clean water.

Jonathan's restaurant in Ogunquit is the only participating restaurant in the state of Maine at this time.

Through numerous fundraising and volunteer activities, the UNICEF Tap Project celebrates the clean water we enjoy on a daily basis by encouraging celebrity, restaurant, volunteer, corporate and government supporters to give this vital resource to children in developing countries. The concept is basic and compelling, "When You Take Water, Give Water."

2012 UNICEF Tap Project Funds will specifically target Togo, Vietnam, Mauritania and Cameroon.

Every day 4,100 children die of water-related diseases. Nearly 900 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water. With just $1 raised through the UNICEF Tap Project can provide a child with safe water for 40 days. The simple act of washing a child's face with clean water can prevent debilitating diseases-like blinding trachoma, an infectious eye disease that spreads from child to child. The world's leading cause of preventable blindness, blinding trachoma is endemic in 57 countries, with 1.2 billion people living in trachoma-endemic areas, primarily in the poorest communities in the developing world-meaning millions of children without access to clean water are at risk of becoming blind from trachoma.

During the UNICEF Tap Project week from Thursday, March 22, through Sunday, March 25, you may donate $1 or more for the usually free tap water that you enjoy while dining at Jonathan's Restaurant. The donation will be added to your bill as a part of your check. All funds raised will support UNICEF's efforts to bring safe, clean and accessible water to the millions of children around the world who need it.

Great Works Regional Land Trust Is Funded By Kate the Great Fans


A historic brew has become something of a boon for land conservation thanks to the Portsmouth Brewery owners, staff, consumers, and the brewer himself! Great Works Regional Land Trust has been awarded a $5,000 charitable donation from scratch ticket sales for the purchase of Kate the Great.

This coveted Russian Imperial Stout is brewed each year from a secret recipe created by Tod Mott, head brewer for Portsmouth Brewery. Its 2012 issue flowed from the taps for public consumption on Monday, March 5, and Great Works representatives were on hand for the fanfare as ticket winners gathered to purchase their brew.

“I really enjoyed meeting Peter Egelston and Joanne Francis, Portsmouth Brewery’s owners, and we are grateful for their support,” said Jack Kareckas, president of the Great Works board of directors. “An unrestricted donation like this is often hard to get. It allows us the flexibility to meet operating expenses as well as unanticipated needs,” he said. Jennifer Fox, another board member, was also present to acknowledge the donation.

Mott, the creative force behind Kate the Great, says he named his concoction after the 18th century Empress Catherine the Great. The brew was originally created in England and sent to her as an alternative to the intensity of Russian vodka. The strong black ale has a roasty, coffee-like flavor with fruity undertones, he says, resulting from of a blend of many types of malt, complex hops and the addition of Port wood to the conditioning beer.

Mott and his wife Galen are members of Great Works Regional Land Trust, and were pulling for the organization to gain support. This year’s scratch ticket sale yielded $30,000 and benefited five non-profits, chosen by Portsmouth Brewery staff. Other awardees included S. E. Land Trust of NH, Sexual Assault Support Services, 3S Artspace and the Center for Wildlife.

Great Works Regional Land Trust has conserved over 4,800 acres, including 57 properties owned and 29 under conservation easement, in the towns of Eliot, South Berwick, Berwick, North Berwick, Wells and Ogunquit, and the region. Most of the lands are open to the public, and visitors are welcome at the organization’s Beach Plum Farm office on Route 1 in Ogunquit. For information on membership, volunteering, and a calendar of hikes and other events, contact Patti Mitchem or Anne Gamble at (207) 646-3604 or

Photo Caption: Jennifer Fox and Jack Kareckas of Great Works Regional Land Trust thank Peter Egelston, founder and president of Portsmouth Brewery. (Courtesy Photo)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Governor LePage Welcomes Home Returning Marines


Governor Paul LePage welcomed home approximately 130 Marines and Sailors late in the afternoon on Wednesday, February 22, at the Portland International Jetport. The service men and women were assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Corps Forces Reserve. These Marines and Sailors returned home from a ten-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“It was an honor to welcome our men and women in uniform home from Afghanistan,” said Governor LePage. “It is important we recognize our service men and women, remembering that some make the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe at home. On behalf of all Mainers, I extend my sincerest thank you to these courageous service members, and their families for the sacrifice and commitment they have shown to our great state and nation.”

The Marines spent three months in California, where they underwent extensive pre-deployment cultural and counterinsurgency training. After the training, the Marines deployed to Afghanistan for seven months. They were assigned to NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan. The mission was focused on training Afghan Security Forces for the transition of security responsibilities from NATO to the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

This was the unit’s second deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom; however it was their first deployment to Afghanistan. In 2003, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle. In 2006, the unit also deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Photo Caption: Governor LePage welcomes home one of nearly 130 Marines and Sailors at the Portland Int. Airport on Wednesday, February 22. (Courtesy Photo)

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Stillson School of Irish Dance


Irish stepdancing has gained popularity in recent years and this unique dance form will again be celebrated on Saturday, March 10, 6:30pm, at the Dunaway Center in Ogunquit where Ogunquit Performing Arts will showcase stepdancers from the renowned Stillson School of Irish Dance, to followed by a screening of the delightful film, “Invitation to the Dance.”

The Stillson School of Irish Dance is under the direction of Carlene Moran Stillson ADCRG/TCRG. She is accredited by Ad Coimisium in Dublin, Ireland, and is a member of IDTANA (Irish Dancing Teacher’s Association of North America). Carlene has a long tradition of dancing, having started at the age of four.

In existence for nineteen years, the school is the only certified school of Irish dancing in the state of Maine and its dancers compete all over New England. They have placed in the New England Regional Irish Dancing Championships annually, and in competitions around the world. In addition to the dance performance, Carlene Stillson will discuss the history of the dance and the many different costumes worn by dancers. The dancers return to Ogunquit by popular demand.

Next, to add to the enjoyment of this special evening of dance, Ogunquit Performing Arts will screen “Invitation to the Dance,” with Gene Kelly at his finest. The multi-talented Kelly is director, choreographer and performer, and the film is unique in that there is no spoken dialogue. The characters perform their roles entirely through dance and mime. “Invitation to the Dance,” released in 1956, is an anthology consisting of three distinct stories, all starring Gene Kelly and featuring leading dancers of the era: Tommy Rall, Igor Youskevitch, Tamara Toumanova and Carol Haney. In addition, dancers from ballet companies of New York, Paris and Rome complete the cast of performers in this one-of-a-kind tour de force of dance. Five different composers provide the music.

The curtain time for this event is 6:30pm, with the performance of the Stillson stepdancers followed by a reception for the dancers; then the screening of the film, “Invitation to the Dance.” Admission is $5 and payable at the door the evening of the performance.

Photo Caption: Stillson dancers in their various colorful costumes will be performing Irish stepdances at the Dunaway Center, March 10, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. (Courtesy Photo)

Mills and Valente Become Finalists in National Merit Scholarship Program


In February, Wells High School seniors Michael Valente and Jesse Mills were notified that they had become finalists in the 57th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Each year, this program makes the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test or PSAT/NMSQT available to high school juniors throughout the United States in order for them to compete for scholarship money. From the initial group of 1.5 million test takers, 16,000 of the highest 50,000 scorers are later picked to become Semifinalists. After additional screening, 15,000 emerge as finalists.

According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), “more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.” In late May, Valente and Mills will learn if and how much scholarship money will be made available to them.

Mills is a member of the National Honor Society, the Math Team and plays club tennis, a non-varsity sport at WHS. Earlier in the school year Mills indicated that he would like to attend Haverford College. At present he is undecided about a college major. Mills is the son of Wesley Mills and Cheryl Dearman Mills of Wells.

Valente is the Treasurer for the Class of 2012 and for the National Honor Society chapter at WHS. Last fall Valente indicated that he would like to attend Boston University or Tufts University to major in pre-med. Valente is the son of Dawn Valente of Wells.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation of Evanston Illinois. It is a non-profit corporation established in 1955. Scholarship money awarded by the NMSC comes largely from corporate and college sponsorship. According to NMSC’s website (, 10,400 students received 51 million in scholarships last year.

Taking the PSAT/NMSQT allows not only for the chance to receive a scholarship, but provides students with valuable experience for taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) in their senior year.

Photo Caption: National Merit Scholarship finalists, Michael Valente and Jesse Mills. (Photo courtesy of Lillian Lagasse)

Friday, March 2, 2012

York Public Library Keeps Up With The Times

By Larry Favinger

Staff Columnist


In the almost 10 years that the York Public Library has been at its home on Long Sands Road, there have been a lot of changes, many of them driven by the increases in technology.

Librarian Robert Waldman said during an interview in his office earlier this week that when the library moved from its much smaller home on York Street, there were two or three “public computers.” Today there are 19 and the ability to add more should the need arise.

The library’s number of actual books has risen from 40,000 when the move was made to what is now in the neighborhood of 60,000 volumes.

“We also have wireless,” he continued, “and that’s been one of the very big changes,” because “more and more people are bringing in their own computers. They’re more comfortable using them [here at the library].”

“The wireless technology is one of the more recent technologies that really has made a tremendous difference in library use.”

And the impact of electronics hasn’t stopped there. Now there are the handheld devices.

“Those devices are not only for access to information,” Waldman said. “It’s also for access to the actual reading materials.”

Waldman said the number of electronic books beings circulated is growing but, the “book circulation continues to go up. So rather than one instead of the other, they seem to be complimenting each other.”

With the increasing number of electronic devices being given as gifts or purchased and used, the library has responded with classes to help people use them to borrow electronic books from the library.

The increase in the popularity of the electronic readers is also causing concern with the publishing industry, he said.

“Some of the publishers are trying to decide how many circulations to give” to a library.

Their concern, he continued, is how to continue to make a profit while providing public access to the books that they have.

This is not dissimilar to when books first came out, he said. At that time publishers worried about how allowing libraries to lend books for free would impact the number of copies sold.

It actually worked well as the sales of books increased once the public could read it from a library and talk about it with others, many then went out and purchased the title for themselves.

Some years ago the library became part of the Minerva network, giving people the opportunity to access books York doesn’t have on their shelves. In joining this work, people can access material from any library within the state in a matter of days.

Included on the library’s web site is a newsstand that allows people to get magazines on their computers as well. By clicking on the magazine the reader wants, he or she has access to the entire issue. “We’re very excited about that,” Waldman said.

There’s also “learning express” available on the website, where people have access to tutorials on how to apply for a job, help in writing a resume and other helpful information.

“In some ways its like reading a science fiction novel and you’re in it,” he said. “Instead of reading what’s going to happen, it’s here.”

So at this point York and other libraries have the ability to offer more services that are more easily accessible than in previous years, and with computers and websites many of the services—e-books and audio books included—are accessible without ever leaving home.

And there is Minerva, a statewide library catalog. “We tell people now to think that you have a library of six million items,” he said.

A user goes on the site, finds the book he or she wants, and the library notifies them when it arrives, usually within a couple of days.

Additionally, there is Marvel, a service that offers juried information on a variety of subjects for those seeking noted, accurate data.

Other changes have also been made, albeit at a much slower rate. Where once audio books and movies on VCRs were the rage, these are being replaced by what Waldman terms a great collection of DVDs and CDs.

The library’s website is done locally and is purposely easy to read and use. Along with access of those services aforementioned, there is a listing of local community events.

“We’re very fortunate that this library is the center of all kinds of activity,” Waldman concluded.

York’s 10-year-old library has grown and continues to do so not through technology alone, but by acting as a social destination for the town as well.

York and Wells High School Students Selected as National Youth Delegates


Victoria Knoepfel, a student at York High School, has been selected to represent Maine as a National Youth Delegate at the 2012 Washington Youth Summit on the Environment at George Mason University. Emilee Wooldridge, of Wells High School, was also selected as a Maine representative.

Knoepfel and Wooldridge have been awarded the opportunity to join a select group of 250 students from across the country to participate in an intensive study week-long of leadership in environmental science and conservation. They were both chosen based upon academic accomplishments and a demonstrated interest and excellence in leadership in the sciences and conservation studies.

George Mason University, along with partners National Geographic and the National Zoo, are excited to welcome the nation's youth scholars to Washington, D.C. With distinguished faculty, guest speakers and direct access to elite D.C. practitioners, the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment offers aspiring environmentalists and student leaders an unparalleled experience.

The week-long program is held at George Mason University's state-of-the-art campus. The Summit will encourage and inspire young leaders who desire a unique experience focused on successful careers in this dynamic industry.

The Washington Youth Summit on the Environment will be held June 24-29.

Berwick Academy Senior Reaches Hockey Milestone


Berwick Academy senior hockey player Shannon Farrell, of Kennebunk, recently reached a milestone that only a few others before her have accomplished. On Saturday, February 11, she scored her 100th point during the Girls Varsity Hockey game against Portsmouth Abbey. Farrell is only the second person to reach the 100-point mark in Berwick Academy girls hockey history, and the first to do it in just three years. Shannon had 98 points going into the game against Portsmouth Abbey. She earned her 99th point in the third period by netting a goal with an assist by Tilly Burzynski at 8:31. Shannon got a break away with 2:57 left in the third, faked the goalie and backhanded it over her into the net to reach 100 points.

Although a significant achievement, Shannon would prefer to be out of the limelight. She gives credit to her teammates wherever possible, and especially in this moment. “I never imagined I would get 100 points. Our main goal was to win EIL's, so personal points aren't really important. We worked really hard to get to where we are and without these girls 100 points definitely wouldn't have been possible. This team has unreal potential and I can't wait to come back and watch them leave their marks on this program.”

Farrell has been playing hockey since the age of six. She first played on a boys’ team for two years and joined the Biddeford Lady Breakers when she was eight. She played with the Lady Breakers until she was 16. In her freshman year, Farrell played on the boy’s team at Kennebunk High School. She transferred to Berwick the following year and began playing for Coach McNulty on the Girls Varsity team. In addition to this 100-point milestone, Farrell has several achievements under her belt. She was named to the Eastern Independent League First Team All-League from 2009-2011, received MVP for her BA team in 2011, is a five-time New England Select Festival participant (2006-2011), and has competed in the U-14 and U-19 National Tier Tournaments.

The Bulldogs clinched the semi-final found of the EIL tournament yesterday, beating Portsmouth Abbey 6-1.

Farrell will go on to play for the Women’s Hockey team at Trinity College next year.

Founded in 1791, Berwick Academy is an independent, coeducational country day school located in South Berwick. For over 200 years, the Academy has pursued its mission through a purposeful blend of strong academics, arts and athletics. Berwick serves nearly 600 students in grades PK-12 from the seacoast area of southern Maine, New Hampshire and northeastern Massachusetts.