Friday, April 20, 2012

Berwick Academy to Host Passamaquoddy Tribe Members for Earth Day Events

Donald Soctomah and Chief Joseph Socobasin of the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Washington County, Maine will visit Berwick Academy this Friday, April 20 to help the community celebrate Earth Day. Soctomah and the Chief will speak at the annual assembly, which will be held outside in front of the Commons Building on campus from 8:30 – 9:15am. They will speak about what Earth Day means to them and their tribe as well as the idea of Mother Earth. The assembly is an all-school event, which is organized by the Middle and Upper School Green Committees, and will also include student speeches and musical performances.
Soctomah and Chief Socobasin will remain on campus for the day to visit with classes. In third grade, they will speak to students about the Native American culture, which coincides with a unit the children are currently learning. In the eighth grade, they will discuss the book, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian”, which the students read this year. In the Upper School, they will meet with an art class to discuss Native American crafts, a music class to discuss Native American music, and a history class for a general discussion on the Native American culture and history of the Passamaquoddy tribe.
Donald Soctomah serves as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Passamaquoddy Tribe. He is the tribal historian and former Tribal Representative to the Maine State Legislature. He has appeared and advised on ten films which explore the history of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, including National Public Television, Animal Planet, Canadian Broadcasting, Maine Public TV and a jointly produced film with the Environmental Protection Agency titled “Our Relatives Place”. Donald is also an author of eight tribal history books which include one that won the National Multi-cultural Award for children’s books, titled “Remember Me: A Story about the Relationship of Chief Tomah Joseph and Franklin Roosevelt”. Additionally, he has produced several music CDs of Passamaquoddy music.
Chief Joseph Socobasin has served as chief, or Sakom, on the Passamaquoddy Tribe since 2010. As chief, he is the Head Executive and Administrator of all Indian Township tribal programs, including Health Service, Fire & Police, Education, Utilities, Infrastructure, Education, and Housing. He is also the head tribal representative for interactions with state and federal government agencies. The Passamaquoddy Tribe has nearly 6,000 members in the individual Tribal Councils of Indian Township, in Princeton, and at the Pleasant Point Reservation (Sipayik) in Perry, Maine.
Photo caption: Berwick Academy Students sport homemade Earth Day hats while assembled for Earth Day in 2011. (Courtesy photo of Berwick Academy's website)

Berwick’s First Public Trail to be Dedicated

“Conserved in memory of Ruth Worcester Greason who walked and loved these woods,” is how the bronze inscription reads for the dedication of Berwick’s first ever public trail on Saturday, April 21 at 1 pm by Great Works Regional Land Trust.
The event, which is open to the public, celebrates the official opening of a trail accessing lands conserved in the Beaver Dam Heath area, over 1,600 acres of vital habitat the Trust is actively preserving. Dedication of Grants Meadow also highlights the historical significance that is often tied to a tract of land when it is conserved.
On Saturday, Great Works’ Board Member and Berwick resident, Michael Wright, will present the dedication plaque to Carolyn Greason Bryan, Ruth Worcester Greason’s daughter, and her husband, Bill Bryan. Like her mother, Carolyn Bryan grew up walking, skiing and snowshoeing on the Heath, enjoying a property that had been connected to her family for more than two centuries.
Before the Bryans helped Great Works conserve the 28-acre site of Grants Meadow through a bargain sale in 2011, it had passed from the family of Joshua Grant to the Hussey and Worcester families. Over time, the Heath has experienced a major fire in the 1940s, and sections were used as a bombing range in World War II. In the book, “Old Families of Kittery,” Joshua Grant is referred to as a sergeant in the militia. The Heath was an important source of hay for him and others into the late 1800s.
“In the spirit of its history, we hope Berwick residents and many others enjoy the new trail that Great Works will be finishing this Spring. We also hope they will help us to preserve and enjoy more of Beaver Dam Heath going forward,” said Wright.
Grants Meadow was also preserved through generosity of the town of Berwick, Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, US Fish and Wildlife Service (through New England Wetlands Conservation funds), and individual donors. The site provides road frontage for the planned parking and trails into Beaver Dam Heath. The shrub-land habitat lies next to an additional 113-acre parcel donated by the Bryans and an abutting two-acre parcel donated by the Town of Berwick.
The Heath is recognized by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife as critical habitat for the threatened Spotted turtle, the endangered Blanding’s turtle and Atlantic white cedars, rare in Maine. Its vernal pools are primary breeding grounds for salamanders, frogs and fairy shrimp. The preserve is vital to flood prevention and water filtration in the area.
Great Works Regional Land Trust is a non-profit organization founded in 1986 to provide conservation options to the landowners and general public of Eliot, South Berwick, Berwick, North Berwick, Wells and Ogunquit. Over 4,800 acres have been conserved. Most lands are open to the public. The dedication of Grants Meadow will mark the sixth “public trail” maintained by Great Works.
For information on the Grants Meadow dedication or the Heath, please contact Great Works Regional Land Trust at or (207) 646-3604. RSVPs are appreciated. (Courtesy photo)

Eliot Police Help Make Strides Toward Ending Elder Abuse

The York County Elder Abuse Task Force was recently announced as the recipient of a $5,000 grant from the Huntington Common Charitable Fund, administered by the Kennebunk Savings Bank Foundation. The funds will be used to purchase hidden camera equipment and software, which will be made available to any Police Department in York County for the purpose of investigating suspected cases of Elder Abuse.
The York County Elder Abuse Task Force is a group of committed professionals from many fields, including law enforcement, social services, and legal services for the elderly and financial institutions. They meet monthly at the Eliot Police Department to share knowledge and skills, to serve as a resource to educate the public about elder abuse, and ultimately to eliminate it as a problem in York County.
According to Officer Candice Simeoni of the Eliot Police Department and Chairperson of the Task Force, “Maine is the ‘oldest’ State in the nation. By 2030, 27 percent of our population will be over the age of 65. It is estimated that there are over 12,000 cases of elder abuse in Maine each year.” Simeoni says “elder abuse can come in many forms, including physical, emotional, psychological, financial, neglect and even sexual abuse.”
One of the more difficult aspects of elder abuse is that the person being abused may not be able to speak for him or herself. Family members may suspect that abuse or theft is occurring, but in the absence of evidence it is difficult to prove who is inflicting the abuse. Several Maine police departments have had significant success in solving elder abuse cases with the use of hidden cameras. These cameras, installed with the knowledge and consent of the victim or the victim’s family, can provide the key piece of evidence in breaking the cycle of abuse.
In the current economic environment, with budgets as tight as they are, few police departments in York County have ready access to such cameras. “Thanks to the grant from the Kennebunk Savings Bank Foundation we will be able to buy some of these cameras, and make them freely available to any police department in York County for use in the investigation of suspected elder abuse” explained Simeoni. “We feel that we can not only assist our law enforcement officers in investigating these cases, but more importantly send a very clear message to abusers that these tools are now available to protect our senior citizens,” Simeoni continued.
Since 2007 the Kennebunk Savings Bank Foundation has administered the Huntington Common Charitable Fund and has distributed over $400,000 to area organizations to benefit York County Seniors. Each year, to further charitable work and the building of community, the Huntington Common Charitable Fund for Seniors of the Kennebunk Savings Bank Foundation seeks out projects and programs that will serve and benefit area seniors.
Funded programs have been wide-ranging and have included programs that help to feed seniors through area food pantries and meals programs, support for caregivers, library programs, job funding and various visiting nurse programs to name just a few.
If you are interested in learning more about the York County Elder Abuse Task Force please contact Officer Candice Simeoni at the Eliot Police Department at 207-439-1179 or