Friday, May 25, 2012

Two Towns Unite to Land Fireball Run

By Timothy Gillis
Staff Columnist

Ogunquit and Sanford have landed a exciting opportunity to be part of an effort that assists in the recovery of missing children. Fireball Run, has assisted in the recovery of thirty-eight missing children since the road rally started in 2007. Ogunquit will house the eighty participants and additional cast and crew members on Friday, September 28. Sanford is the location of a secret mission earlier in the day.
Karen Arel, president of the Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce, and Suzanne McKechnie, economic development specialist for the Sanford Growth Council, were the two main players in landing the adventure rally, called “2012 Fireball Run Northern Exposure".
“This is a great way for our regions to collaborate,” McKechnie said. “It’s a great way to show people what our towns have to offer.”
McKechnie got a phone call from the Sanford Downtown Legacy group, saying the show was interested in Sanford’s Pumpkin Regatta. The annual race features 800 to 1,000 pound pumpkins, carved out, painted, and raced on No. 1 pond in Sanford. Contestants in the race are clad in outlandish costumes and compete furiously to come in first, or at least not sink their pumpkins. The race, part of Sanford’s Harvest Daze, was featured on the National Geographic Channel, and drew the attention of Fireball Run. This September, the forty teams made up of business leaders, industry celebrities and elected leaders will test their own gourd-racing talents as one of the show’s many missions.
McKechnie called the Ogunquit Chamber and talked with Arel about the two towns combining efforts. The teams will stay in Ogunquit, at the Meadowmere Resort, and they will dine at Jonathan’s.
“We’re very fortunate they selected two businesses who were able to work with Fireball Run’s strict guidelines that are set for being the host hotel and host restaurant,” Arel said.
Part of the competition involves trading cards of the participants. Local fans of the show are encouraged to try to collect these trading cards as an avenue for possible future business. “If people can make it to the dinner, there will be some great business connections to make,” she said.
They are still looking for contestants to join the race. “If some local business wants to be the hometown team, they can contact me,” Arel said. “This is exciting. The country is the game board; the participants are the pieces.”
There will be two Maine celebrity teams in the race. Timber Tina Scheer, world champion lumberjill, and Carolann Ouelette, director of the Maine Office of Tourism, will be raising awareness for the search for Ayla Reynolds, of Waterville. Bill and Valerie Sowles, of Yarmouth, will be trying to increase awareness for the search for Aydriana Tetu, of Lewiston, according to David Hickman, executive vice-president of marketing for Fireball Run. Bill Sowles owns Morong Brunswick and Morong Falmouth with his brother, Peter.
There are forty two-person celebrity teams. “We used to have more teams but we’ve pared it down, restricting it to forty,” said Hickman. The teams will begin in Independence, Ohio, and travel more than 2,000 miles in eight days, through fourteen cities. The trip ends in Bangor. They will complete hundreds of missions, locating items of local, historic nature or something from pop culture. “It will be roadside, whimsy fun,” Hickman said. The teams race to collect points for achieving a mission, and then find out what the next mission is.
“It’s a nod to ‘The Cannonball Run’ movies with Burt Reynolds, but also a nod to Fireball Roberts, a Nascar driver from central Florida,” Hickman said. Fireball Run is produced at Orlando Studios in Florida. Jay Sanchez, the show’s director, said the Fireball Run is a celebration of the America less-travelled. “We have forty influential teams who are going to discover your communities.” This year’s run celebrates women in professional sports.
Sanchez said the show will pull in more than $40 million worth of news media this year, up from $13 million their inaugural year. News media coverage is a statistic determined by what the coverage of the event would be worth in advertising dollars. In other words, the road rally is so popular, good for local businesses, and benefitting a worthy cause that makes it such an interesting, newsworthy event.  
Sanchez, who said he didn’t know how to pronounce Ogunquit when he first heard of the town, came to love the area quickly. The crew was in town last week to announce the show at a press conference held at Perkins Cove. They met with local authorities to hash out the myriad details for a show of this large scale, and were whisked around town by Maine Limousine to scout possible filming locations. (photo by Tim Gillis)

Rodeo to Raise Money for Wounded Warrior Project

By Timothy Gillis
The Churchill Ranch Rodeo at York Wild Kingdom, June 1 through 3, will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors.
Kenny Churchill, the champion bull rider, is holding the 2nd annual event as a way to share his passion for bull-riding and the rodeo, as well as pay tribute to veterans. “I took care of a veteran for thirty years,” Churchill said from his ranch this week. George Parker, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, was friends with Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister, and the Kennedys.
“I used to have a cleaning company in Brookline, Massachusetts. One day I found him on the floor, unconscious, going into a stroke,” Churchill said. “When he got better, I asked him for contact information, in case it ever happened again. He said he didn’t have any.”
Churchill brought him into his own family, and cared for him until last August, when Parker died of cancer.
“He was like a grandfather to my kids,” Churchill said. “He loved the military so much. I know he would love that we’re doing this for the Wounded Warrior Project.”
The rodeo weekend kicks off Friday, June 1, at the York American Legion at 7:30 p.m. with a silent auction. There will be four live bands – Johnny Wad and the Cash, Whiskey Kill, Jandee Lee Porter, and Walkin’ the Line – and food and drink. The event is hosted by the World Cup Bull Riders, the Motor Cross Team, and the Monster Truck Team.
Churchill rode professionally for twenty years, and was in the championship finals for sixteen of them. The rookie champion of the year in 1982, Churchill is happy to have his rodeo at York Wild Kingdom, on Saturday, June 2, and Sunday, June 3. He had tried to have it at his ranch in the past, but ran into trouble with permits.
“It’s going to be a great time, and a good cause,” he said. (courtesy photo)

Local Woman Featured in National Magazine for Her Work Fighting Polio

By Timothy Gillis

Ann Lee Hussey is featured in this month’s issue of Real Simple. The South Berwick native has traveled twenty times around the globe, bringing polio vaccines to poor countries. Most recently, she was in Chad. “I’m going back to Nigeria in the fall. I plan to return to Chad and the South Sudan,” she said from her home this week. “Even though these countries are not on the endemic lists, their neighboring countries are, so the neighbors are at risk.”
Hussey was in India in February of last year when the World Health Organization took India off the polio endemic list. But her efforts reach far beyond that. “Some people just go to India, or places they know have trouble. I like to go to other places that are also at risk,” she said.
Hussey, who suffers from polio herself, has made it a life quest to help eradicate the disease. “Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus,” according to the WHO website. “It invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. The virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine. Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs). Among those paralyzed, 5 to 10 percent die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.”
Hussey said the disease is less prevalent now, but is still a problem in many parts of the world. “Most cases are now found in areas of poor sanitation resulting in fecal contamination of water, and primarily occurs in children under the age of two,” she said. “The first vaccine was available in April 1955 by Dr. Jonas Salk.”
All this globetrotting is taxing on Hussey, especially given her continued health concerns. “I have changes that I fear may be early signs of  PPS,” she said. PPS is post-polio syndrome, a progressive condition that causes muscular weakness, pain, and exhaustion for up to twenty-five percent of polio sufferers.
Her husband, Michael Nazemetz, is proud of the work his wife is doing, and of the national acclaim the magazine article brings with it. Often working behind the scenes as Hussey’s PR man, Nazemetz also knows full well how challenging all this travel is for someone with chronic joint and muscle aches so painful they interrupt sleep.
Hussey says it’s all worth it. Knowing she may be able to help rid the world of this deadly disease is a pretty good panacea. (courtesy photo)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Unique Hike through History Explores Childhood at Sites in Two States

Ringing the factory bell that summoned youth before there were child labor laws.  Shelling peas, and scrubbing clothes in a washtub like a French Canadian immigrant family 100 years ago.  Reciting classroom lessons learned in the 1800s by a student who became one of Maine’s most famous authors, Sarah Orne Jewett.
About 190 eighth graders from Marshwood Middle School and 30 third graders from Central School have been preparing for these activities by researching real local residents from the past.  They readied themselves to teach some 600 younger elementary students in preparation during the Hike through History on May 18. 
Eighth graders were especially enthusiastic as they prepared for the Hike through History in recent days. Abby Corriveau recalled her own experience on the Hike back when she was in Central School grader, saying, "It is great to be working on something that I was involved in when I was little, and help all the kids learn about history."
Andrew Bennington moved to the school district after third grade and thus has never experienced a Hike throughHistory. "I'm excited to be experiencing an awesome event for the first time as the teacher, and to help the kids learn."
Tabitha Fiorentini said, "The planning of Hike Through History is teaching me a lot. Hopefully all our work will pay off!"
"It's tough to put this together," Nicolas Ciampa admitted, "but I'm excited for the final result that'll be educational and fun for the kids."
For the past 18 years, Central School’s annual Hike through History has been a collaboration with the Old Berwick Historical Society.  The event is led by teachers, older students and volunteers, at little financial expense.
“The Hike provides engaging, authentic local history resources to introduce students to history studies using actual places and people of our own community,” said Nicole St. Pierre, curriculum coordinator for the Old Berwick Historical Society who is teaming up with Pamela Mulcahey, a Central School teacher who coordinates the Hike through History.
“The theme of this year's Hike is Childhood,” St. Pierre continued.  “Kids will be focusing on the idea of how children of the past contributed to their families, schools, and communities.”
“Both the eighth grade and third grade interpreters do a fantastic job, first conducting their own historical research, and then communicating what they learn to a younger audience,” she added.
This year's Hike through History planned to circulate throughout downtown South Berwick, including the Sarah Orne Jewett House and the new South Berwick Library. Taking advantage of their school’s location on the Maine/New Hampshire border, the route would also cross a bridge over a historic waterfall to follow the footsteps of factory workers at the Salmon Falls Manufacturing Company in Rollinsford, NH.  Eighth-grade interpreters were assigned to meet the young children, explain how cloth was made under difficult working conditions, and demonstrate life in a boarding house.
Along the way, children would also have fun tasting the wares of a bakery and confectionery, shopping for 1910 fashions, and enjoying an amusement park like that once operated by the trolley company.
Central School and Berwick Academy third graders prepared for the Hike by attending a special program at the Counting House Museum in early May, where they experienced a simulated school classroom of Miss Olive Raynes, a South Berwick teacher in the 1800s.
Counting students, teachers and families, the number of Hike through History participants is about 1000.  Historic New England, South Berwick Public Library, and owners of the historic properties along the route also have collaborated. 
Most of the Hike through History route travels through districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Maine and New Hampshire.
This year’s Hike preparations sawimprovements over past years. Staffing has allowed better integration of teachers’ educational goals with historic materials from the archives of the society’s Counting House Museum, and written plans to support the program’s continuation in the future. A supportive website,, has also been created. Funding for the improvements was provided by grants from the Davis Family and Marshwood Education Foundations. (courtesy photo)

Marshwood Students Win Accolades at National Championships

On April 27, students from Marshwood High School traveled to Washington, D.C.,and represented Maine in the 25th annual We the People: The Citizen
and the Constitution national championship. About 1,400 high school students from forty-seven states and the District of Columbia participated in the highly prestigious academic competition on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
After two days of rigorous competition, Marshwood’s Unit Six team of Isabella Burke, Catherine Pouliot and Samantha Silver were awarded honors for being the top team in the nation for Unit 6. Marshwood students studied for months to prepare for their role as experts testifying on constitutional issues in a simulated congressional hearing. To represent Maine at the national finals, the class won the state competition held in Portland on February 3.  This marked the fourth straight state title for Marshwood.
 “To win the state championship is quite difficult and to win a unit award at the National championships is an amazing achievement,” said Matt Sanzone, the social studies teacher who coaches the Marshwood team.  “We’ve been to nationals five times, but this is the first year one of our teams won an award.  Isa, Kate and Sam are extremely talented and bright students who spent countless hours doing research and preparation.  They performed at an elite level,” said Sanzone.  Perhaps the most impressive aspect of these students’ accomplishment is the fact that they competed in two separate units due to Marshwood’s team size.  “We only had twelve students at nationals, so six of our kids had to do two units each.  Competition rules require three students on each of the six unit teams,” noted Sanzone.
“It is always a tremendous honor to represent our state at Nationals,” said Sanzone. All six, unit teams displayed outstanding knowledge of their topics and demonstrated poise in the face of some challenging questions. I am so proud of each and every one of them.”  Students who represented Marshwood at the National Finals were: Unit 1 (What are the philosophical and historical foundations of the American political system?) Adam Bryant, Trenor Colby and Jessica Pickford; Unit 2 (How did the Framers create the Constitution?) Isabella Burke, Catherine Pouliot and Samantha Silver; Unit 3 (How has the Constitution been changed to further the ideals contained in the Declaration of Independence?) Nick Forsyth, Rebecca Green and Madeline Hixon; Unit 4 (How have the values and principles embodied in the Constitution shaped American institutions and practices?) Rebecca Green, Toni Kaplan and Timothy LaPointe; Unit 5 (What rights does the Bill of Rights protect?) Adam Bryant, Timothy LaPointe and Ian Ramsay; and Unit 6 (What Challenges might face American constitutional democracy in the twenty-first century?) Isabella Burke, Catherine Pouliot and Samantha Silver.  
Senior Isabella Burke said, “I'm extremely grateful for the experience I've had with We The People. It was especially awesome to be able to see all the monuments, museums, and landmarks in Washington, DC. The city provides a perfect backdrop for the competition. I was already very interested in politics and government, but this experience has helped me gain a greater understanding of governmental and Constitutional issues throughout American history. We The People is a unique, rigorous, and inspiring program that challenges students to think and articulate ideas at a higher level than most other academic situations require. I think it instilled a greater sense of citizenship and patriotism in all of us.”
We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is funded by the U.S. Department of Education under the Education for Democracy Act approved by the United States Congress.  The program is directed by the Center for Civic Education in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.  Nationwide, the program is implemented at the upper elementary, middle, and high school levels and has reached more than 30 million students and 81,000 teachers during its 25-year history. (courtesy photo)

Mary Keane Celebrates Her 103rd Birthday

Friends and family joined Mary Keane to celebrate her 103rd birthday this past Saturday, May 12, at the home of Scott and Judy Heminger in Ogunquit. Keane lives there with her brother, John, who is 98. The siblings were orphaned when Mary was nine years old.  “There were four brothers and sisters, and they each went to live with a different family,” Judy Heminger said. “Their parents were Irish immigrants, and they worked in the Amoskeag mill yard in Manchester, New Hampshire. “Even at her age, she has her mind and wits about her. She’s quite a lady.” More than seventy-five guests turned out to the Open House to wish Mary Happy Birthday. (courtesy photo)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shakespeare Festival Offers Several Ways to Celebrate the Bard

Fresh off the success of Ogunquit Performing Arts’ 6th annual Piano Festival, this ambitious presenting group that is sponsored by the town of Ogunquit and supported by local businesses is undertaking a new festival devoted to the writings and philosophies of William Shakespeare.
This event, partially funded by a grant from the Maine Humanities Council and a second grant from the Ogunquit Rotary Club, will explore (in a variety of ways) the works of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English poet, playwright, and actor who is arguably the most important writer in the English language and the world’s eminent dramatist. His surviving works consist of about thirty-eight plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems and other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
The kick-off event for the 2012 Shakespeare Festival is the presentation of the film “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Friday May 18 at 7:30 pm at the Dunaway Center. This film is the 1996 film adaptation of the 1994 Royal Shakespeare Company’s stage production. It is a playful version of Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy. It is richly colored, elegantly costumed, and superbly acted, with the beauty of Shakespeare’s language shining throughout.
Then on Saturday, May 19, between 2 and 4 p.m. at the Dunaway Center, participants will be transported back into Elizabethan times with a free afternoon of Shakespearean events that will be opened by poets of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. Participants will meet and interact with actors, poets, scholars, and musicians, and are invited to come in period costume. There will be poetry readings, stories and crafts hosted by the Wells Public Library staff, a theatre Workshop conducted by MaineStage Shakespeare (for ages 11+), a panel discussion by professionals in the field of theatre production: “Why Shakespeare?” another workshop for ages 5 to 10 conducted by MaineStage Shakespeare, and an Elizabethan Music Workshop with SeaCoast Brass.
The Festival’s culminating event, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19 at the Dunaway Center, will be “A Taste of Shakespeare” presented by MaineStage Shakespeare who will perform, in costume, selected acts from “Othello,” “As You Like It,” and “Love’s Labour’s Lost” with introductory and intermission poetry plus Elizabethan music by SeaCoast Brass. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for students and are available at the Dunaway Center, Ogunquit Camera Shop, and Ogunquit Welcome Center, and at the door the evening of the performance. For detailed information about this event and its participants go to: (courtesy photo)

Terrorism Expert to Speak

Well-known counter terrorism expert Daveed Gartenstein-Ross will be guest of the Maine Chapter of the Association for Intelligence Officers at the May 19 meeting. Author of the recently published “Bin Laden’s Legacy: Why We’re Still Losing the War on Terror,” Gartenstein-Ross is director of the Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank. In line with his major areas of research into radicalization of homegrown terrorists and the Somali-based jihadi group al Shabaab, he will discuss strategic issues in the global struggle against a resiliant al Qaeda, with an extended discussion of Somalia and briefly touch on funding for terrorist groups.
Gartenstein-Ross is a frequent consultant on counter terrorism for various government agencies as well as private groups. He has testified before the U. S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and is a regular lecturer for the Naval Postgraduate School’s Leader Development and Education for Sustained Peace.
Growing up in Ashland, Oregon, the son of non-practicing Jewish parents, Garstenstein-Ross converted to Islam in his early twenties after becoming impressed with the religious devotion of his Muslim friends. In 2000 he converted to Christianity after helping the Federal Bureau of Investigation in conducting their investigation of Al Haramain, a Wahhabi charity now considered a terrorist group.
The speaker holds a J.D. from the New York University School of Law, and is a Ph.D. candidate in world politics at the Catholic University of America where he received a M.A. in the same subject.
The meeting will be held at 2:00 p.m. in the Brick Store Museum Program Center, 2 Dane Street, Kennebunk. The meeting is open to the public. For information call 207-967-4298.

Local Child is Winner in Writers’ Contest

Noah Quater’s story “Joe the Dragon” was selected as a 3rd place winner for Kindergarten in this year’s New Hampshire Public Television – PBS Kids Go! Writers Contest.  Noah’s story features a water-breathing dragon named Joe, who has a hard time making friends with the fire-breathing dragons at school.  That all changes when Joe's water saves the day! Noah lives in South Berwick.
The contest encourages children in K – 3rd grade to explore the power of creativity by writing and illustrating their own stories, and promotes reading skills through hands-on, active learning. This is the 18th year NHPTV has hosted a writing and illustrating contest for children.  There were 320 entries this year; more than 10,000 children have participated over the years.
NHPTV’s first-place winners will compete against the winners from 62 other public television stations in the national PBS Kids Go! Writers Contest. The first-, second-, and third-place winners in the four grade categories will be recognized at the awards ceremony June 2nd at NHPTV Family Day at Story Land in Glen, New Hamspshire.  Award-winning children’s author Kathy Brodsky, whose books include “A Horse Named Special,” “Stover,” and “The Inside Story,” will speak at the ceremony.
“We’re so pleased to offer this opportunity to celebrate young writers. The entries we received were very impressive,” said Dawn DeAngelis, NHPTV's chief content officer.
The contest is part of NHPTV's commitment to promoting literacy and a love of reading, writing and creative expression in children. The contest aligns with New Hampshire writing and reading standards, and is made possible with support from NEA-New Hampshire.
This year's NHPTV winners were chosen by a panel of judges including local educators and librarians. Winning stories can be read on the website
Starting as the Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest in1994, the contest became the NHPTV– PBS Kids Go! Writers Contest in 2010. Six local children have been recognized for their work with national awards.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wells Student Heads to Environmental Summit in Virginia

Emilee Wooldridge, a Wells High School student, has been selected one of 250 National Youth Delegates to attend the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment (WYSE) held at George Mason University from June 24 to June 29. Mason is hosting this event with partners the National Zoo and the National Geographic Society.
“I can’t wait,” said an excited Wooldridge who added that she has never been to the Washington, D.C. area before. WYSE delegates are either high school sophomores or juniors who apply to attend.
“Wooldridge was chosen based upon academic accomplishments, demonstrated interest and excellence in leadership in the sciences and conservation studies,” read a statement from George Mason University regarding Woolridge’s selection and the program.
“With distinguished faculty, guest speakers, and direct access to elite D.C. practitioners, the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment offers scholars and student leaders an unparalleled experience.”
Wooldridge is a sophomore at Wells High School. She is a member of the WHS Band Color Guard and is a captain on the Winter Guard. Earlier this year she was the Assistant Director and Stage Manager for the 2012 spring musical at WHS, ‘Anything Goes.’ Regarding her future beyond Wells High School, Wooldridge indicated that she has not researched any colleges that she would like to attend. Emilee Wooldridge is the daughter of Janice Wooldridge in Wells. George Mason University is located in northern Virginia near Washington, D.C. This article was written by Reg Bennett.
Photo caption: Emilee Wooldridge is heading to Washington D.C. for meeting on environment (photo by Reg Bennett)

Ride for the Troops Raises Money and Spirit

The 5th Annual Ride for the Troops cruised through York County this past Sunday. Sponsored by Patriot Riders of New England – MA Chapter #1 and Patriot Riders of America – Maine Chapter #1, the beautiful scenic ride through coastal towns raised money for local veterans. The ride started at Inn on the Blues at York Beach, and ended at Bentley’s Saloon in Arundel, where there was a ceremony honoring our veterans with great music, food, and raffles. (Photos courtesy of Dan Brennan)

Cinco de Mayo With a Purpose

May 5, a traditional Mexican holiday, is typically celebrated as a rite of passage. This year, join Daisy’s Children as they celebrate a night of promise at Jonathan’s Restaurant in Ogunquit.
What began as a simple desire to care for three children in a small mountain village in Honduras has rapidly grown to provide nutritious meals, clean drinking water, educational uniforms and supplies, as well as medical care for more than 100 children in this village, under the guidance of founder Sharon Beckwith and her Honduran partner, Maria Elena Plaites Manzano.
Cinco de Mayo has a far deeper meaning to Beckwith as well as Joyeis, Carla and Roberto. May 5, 2008, was the day that Deysi Suyapa Madrid Chavez died in Concepcion del Norte due to complications of malnutrition. This 24-year-old mother gave her life because she chose to feed her young children rather than herself.
This year, Jonathan’s Restaurant partners with Daisy’s Children to host a celebration of all that has happened in honor of Deysi. A night filled with laughter and joy, coupled with a south of the border flair will commence with a cocktail hour at 7 p.m. A cash bar will feature specialty margaritas, sangria, Corona and more. Appetizers will include a Latin flair. A silent auction will be held throughout the cocktail hour and into dinner, featuring many fine local and Honduran items brought back from the village area. Dessert will be coupled with Honduran coffee and select live auction items.
Throughout your meal the wait staff will muster up their comedic timing to raise a grand total in tips to cover our First Annual Gringo Trophy. Come prepared to tip them well knowing that each dollar you spend will feed a child two meals and a healthy snack. Guests may also bring along a bag of props to entice their waiters to perform in order to incur a higher tip!
This event is open to the public. Tickets are on sale now by calling 207-646-4777. Tickets are also available at The Hair Shop in North Berwick, and Lucy’s Art Emporium in Dover, NH. For more information, please visit
Photo caption: Daisy’s Children works to provide sustenance, education, and medical support to the disadvantaged children of Honduras. ( photo)