Friday, June 15, 2012

Bush Family Holds Birthday Bash, Visits Namesake Ship

(courtesy photo)
By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
OFF KENNEUNKPORT – The crew of the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) got a special treat Sunday when two former Presidents, including the ship’s namesake, came on board for a visit.
Former Presidents George H.W. Bush (41) and George W. Bush (43) took part in special ceremonies and their party toured the Navy’s newest carrier as it lay off Kennebunkport near Martin’s Point, summer home of the Bush family.
“It’s a great honor to be out here,” said George H.W. Bush. “I’m thrilled to be on this vessel that bears my name, and I’m very proud of all of those that re-upped for the service to our great country.”
One of the activities aboard the ship was a mass reenlistment, enlisted advancements, and officer promotions ceremony.
“Today we are honored to have our namesake available to reenlist 77 George H.W. Bush Sailors, promote seven officers to the next rank, and advance Sailors through our Command Advancement Program (CAP),” said Capt. Brian E. Luther, the ship’s commanding officer. “They are the true spirit of this great ship, and as with their namesake, represent the past, the present and the future of our Navy.”
George H.W. Bush was a naval aviator during World War II and was shot down during action in the Pacific. He was 19 at the time of his commissioning and was, at the time, the youngest Naval aviator in the history of the service.
According to Navy spokesmen, Doro Bush Koch, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and other members of the Bush family accompanied the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier during a scheduled training evolution to encourage the crew and heighten their morale.
According to the ship’s web site, the keel for the USS George H.W. Bush was laid in September 2003 and she was commissioned in October of 2006. The carrier is 1,092 feet in length, nearly as long as the Empire State Building is high.
 Following the ceremony, both former presidents took time for photographs with the crew before George W. Bush and family members toured the ship.
The spokesman said that for many crewmembers, this was not only their first opportunity to meet the ship’s namesake, but also two former U.S. presidents.
 “I have been in the Navy for five years and this is something that will go down as one of the top moments of my life,” said Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Zachery McKenzie.
“It’s an honor to be reenlisted by our ship’s namesake. Not many people can say they’ve been re-enlisted by a President. It’s rare.”
The ship is currently in the Atlantic Ocean training for upcoming inspections and certifications.
The helicopter trip to the ship is one of several special occasions for the Bush family during the last week. Friday was Barbara Bush’s 87th birthday and former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 88th birthday Tuesday. He invited 200 friends and family members to a special screening of the new HBO documentary "41," about his time in the White House. He was joined by former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
The group watched the film at a makeshift theater built on the grounds of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, now known as the Kennebunkport Playhouse.

(Seaman Benjamin Kelly, public affairs mass communication specialist aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) contributed to this report.)

Strawberry Festival Features Food, Face-Painting & Hayrides

Anna Spiller on the potato planter that caused an eye injury recently (photo by Tim Gillis)
By Timothy Gillis

WELLS – The Wells Rotary Strawberry Festival will be held Saturday, June 16, at Spillers’ Farm, Route 9A, Branch Road, in Wells. Bill and Anna Spiller, who own the farm, say they have been getting ready for the festival for weeks now, and look forward to annual event. Jim Spiller, their son, started the festival five years ago when he was president of the rotary. He and his wife Jeannine own Spillers’ Farm Store, and they have also been gearing up, baking all the homemade biscuits and shortcakes that will be for sale to help raise money for local rotary projects. They will also be selling hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage and peppers. And it continues to be a family affair, as their daughter, Michelle, will be doing free face-painting for children.
“She’s a (University of Maine at) Farmington grad, with a degree in early childhood education,” Jim Spiller said. “She’s awesome with the kids.”
Bill and Anna raise the berries and will be conducting the pick-your-own aspect of the festival. Also, they will be giving free hayrides on the hour, at 11 a.m., 12 noon, 1 and 2 p.m.
“The strawberries are early this year,” Anna said. “People have been picking their own here for more than a week.” The Spillers get up at 5 a.m. each day to begin the daily labors of life on a farm. They have a new chore, as well. There are two baby geese who joined the fourteen adults recently. Caring for them has added to the tasks, and made for some dangerous times, in fact.
“I hurt my ear when I was trying to help one of the babies through the fence,” Anna said. “The mother attacked me. Bill got hurt too when trying to get a goose out of the area. He smacked his head on the woodwork.”
Anna was popped a good one by the handle of a potato planter when hauling it out for re-use. Luckily, she had her safety goggles on, so the injury was minimized. They had put it away for the season, but needed to get it back out again when the local food pantry told them how much they would need. “We got the call, and I knew right away we would need to plant more,” Bill said. The Spillers donate food to the York County Shelter.
All the pain is worth it to the Spillers. “It’s all part of farming,” Anna said.
Folks attending the Festival should be prepared to park on grass. There will be parking attendants to help guide people to the pick-your-own area, as well as other Festival events.

2nd Annual Kittery Block Party Hits the Streets

(courtesy photo)
Once again the streets of downtown Kittery will be filled with thousands of people enjoying a variety of vendors, foods and entertainment as the 2012 Kittery Block Party kicks off on Saturday, June 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  This year the block party is expanding into the evening with four venues featuring live music and dancing from 8 to 11 p.m.  This year’s Block Party theme is “Rock the Block” – and the KBP Committee is hoping that the community will do just that. 
Sponsored by Bob’s Clam Hut, York Hospital, Kennebunk Savings Bank, and The Black Birch, the Kittery Block Party is a celebration of local art, culture, and food that fosters lasting relationships and strengthens community in a fun neighborhood atmosphere, enjoyable to all ages. Proceeds from this year’s party will benefit Fair Tide Inc. and the Kittery Recreation Department.
Held in the heart of downtown Kittery Foreside, daytime Block Party activities will feature a Main Stage with a variety of live entertainers from 10:30 to 4:00, a special children’s area with a second entertainment stage along with games, spin art, sand art, balloon sculptures, face painting, an inflatable bounce house, and more; and a varied assortment of non-profit organizations, artists/artisans and food/commercial vendors.  There is no admission fee to attend any of the daytime events. 
Starting at 10:30 a.m., the Main Stage in will be ablaze with a sampling of the Seacoast’s finest entertainment.  The Tardy Brothers will kick off the morning with their amazing juggling.  Then our own Drika Overton of The Kittery Dance Hall will light up the stage along with the guys behind BUOY for a show that will command the attention of all ages.  If you haven’t seen them before, The Serfs with their Eastern Bloc accordion-driven rock quartet can’t be missed – you’ll be surfing for information on their next show before the sun goes down.  I-Level Reggae with Matt Jensen will rejuvenate the senses with their cool afro-cubano reggae sound as you saunter into the afternoon.  Continuing the cool notes, Watkinsonic will take you where you need to be with their pop sound cultivated with jazz, r&b, and soul qualities.  Last, but certainly not least, One Hand Free will bring you to your feet as you feel the touch of the hand of rock.
The evening will see four venues hosting more music and dancing: The Kittery Dance Hall, BUOY, the 2nd Christian Congregational United Church of Christ, and the former Masonic Hall.  Tickets are $10 and will give you access to all four venues.  The entertainment line-up can be found on the website.   
Rian Bedard from EcoMovement will be on hand once again this year with recycling and composting stations throughout the Block Party.  All vendors are to utilize compostable and recyclable materials to make this a Zero Waste event.
The Rice Public Library will feature a Memorial Bridge photographic retrospective through the month of June. This show will feature images of the Memorial Bridge spanning its 89 years.  For more information go to
Anyone interested in booth space can go to, e-mail or call 207-439-3800 for further information.