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Archive for September 2012

Op/Ed: Mainers know who are unwilling to help themselves

By Timothy J. Lajoie

This past May I attended the Republican Convention as the chairman of the Lewiston Republican delegation. I heard Governor Paul LePage give a speech where he reiterated his commitment to Maine’s elderly, disabled, and children—the most vulnerable among us. It was heartening to hear that, since my grandmother is 92 and my mother is 67.

Surely, after working their entire lives to raise families, they have earned the peace of mind that comes with knowing that they will be cared for in their sunset years. I cannot think of anything more cruel than to abandon them—after a lifetime of contributing to society—when they need us most.

The next day, however, imagine my shock when the local media outlets accused the governor of telling those who receive state assistance that they need to “get off the couch and get a job.” To be fair to the media, he did say that. He just never directed the statement at folks like my mother or my grandmother or the disabled or children. He directed it at those able to make a contribution, as my mother and grandmother have, but who have chosen not to.

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Public to review draft plan for Androscoggin Greenway trails

After a year of workshops and public outings, a draft plan for the Androscoggin Greenway, a network of land and water-based trails, is ready to be unveiled.

The Androscoggin Land Trust, in partnership with the newly formed Lewiston-Auburn Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, will host its final public workshop on a proposed trail network on Wednesday, September 19 at 6 p.m. hosted by Museum LA in the Bates Mill Complex in Lewiston.

“National and state funders have taken an interest in the growing potential of the Androscoggin River to support economic growth and improve quality of life for residents,” said Jonathan LaBonté, director of Androscoggin Land Trust. “And with the momentum of the Riverfront Island study, it is an exciting time to be planning for the future of this river and preparing a short list of top projects that the community wishes to see completed as soon as possible.”

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“Welcoming Maine” seeks to integrate new and native Mainers

By Sarah Davis

Welcoming Maine

Forty-eight diverse stakeholders gathered on August 30 for an event titled, “Future at Stake: Addressing Youth Integration in L/A.” The evening was groundbreaking because of the diversity of its high-profile participants, who intermingled during a film screening, a facilitated dialogue and a traditional Somali meal.

This event was the second dinner in a series organized by Welcoming Maine, a community group that works to improve social integration between new and native Mainers through interactive events.

Invited guests included representatives from Lewiston and Auburn’s police, fire and school departments, Juvenile Community Corrections, Lewiston Housing Authority, Central Maine Medical Center, Saint Mary’s Health System, Catholic Charities Refugee & Immigration Services, New Beginnings, College 4 ME Androscoggin, Tree Street Youth, Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Somali Women of Maine, Somali community elders and new Mainer youth. Event organizers were pleased by the high turn out.

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Enough is Enough: Quietly seeking solutions to Lewiston’s problems

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Too many hands ruin the soup. When moving a city forward, two opportunities stand before you. The first is creating a city that prospers, where jobs are abundant and unemployment is at or near zero.

The second is to rely on “community leaders”, void of imagination, who beg the government for more federal programs. Ride around Lewiston and look upon the results of that strategy.

Last week I wrote a column calling for the end of division in our community and asking that we unite and move Lewiston forward.

Last week’s edition of the TCT had no sooner hit the streets when our former mayor, Laurent F. Gilbert Sr., pronounced my column divisive. Mobilizing, he went downtown looking to create community division, seeking allies to support his claim.

Let’s be frank: the former mayor hates me, and after this stunt I can assure you that the feeling is mutual. The only difference is that I would never use my hatred against him if I thought it would bring a negative reaction to Lewiston and its citizens.

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LETTER: The value of welcoming our New Mainers

This is a letter to Lewiston Mayor Bob Macdonald:

Mr. Mayor,

I read your column several times, and was most struck by the wonderful acknowledgements you made to the New Mainers living within your community. (“Enough is Enough: Extremist liberals widen the divide with Somalis,” TCT, Sept. 6, 2012)

I, too, have had this positive experience when meeting people from within the largest immigrant/refugee population (since the French-Canadians, of course).

Your words ring so true: “Since becoming mayor, I have met with groups of Somalis on several occasions. I have found the overwhelming majority to be kind and very hospitable. The majority express their appreciation for having been afforded the chance to live in a place that is safe and offers unlimited opportunities in which to better themselves.”

Like many of our own forefathers, who were immigrants themselves, all the way back to Columbus, people from the New Mainer population are so very relieved to be in a safe, beautiful place and eager to learn how to contribute to our wonderful country.

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LETTER: Cut welfare before creating jobs?

To the Editor:

I agree with Robert A. Reed’s Letter to the Editor, titled “Why Maine needs welfare reform,”(TCT, page 3, September 6, 2012).

However, there are reasons as to why we are in this welfare crisis, as is most of the nation today. As a retired Mainer, I have seen the decline of the middle class over the years. As an example, a few years ago, there were many factories in Maine that produced a variety of goods that went out of business due to the global economy.

The greedy, who control the working class in order to acquire more wealth—not that they needed more, but some people are driven by it—sent the jobs overseas for cheap labor, leaving high unemployment, not only here in Maine, but throughout the country. Why not allow people who do not want higher education or perhaps are not able to succeed in these areas of learning to work with their hands to be able to support a family and earn a decent living and not need public assistance?

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One-room schoolhouses featured at Historical Society

Many school children already know Donna Berry, who regularly plays the part of schoolmarm while recreating an 1850s school day for students visiting the one-room schoolhouse in West Auburn.

Now adults can get to know her too when she speaks at the next meeting of the Androscoggin Historical Society on Tuesday, September 25 at 7 p.m. in the Society’s headquarters, located on the third floor of the County Courthouse building in Auburn. Berry will discuss the history of the West Auburn Schoolhouse, including the school day, the teacher, textbooks, subjects, and discipline, and will invite audience members to share their own stories about education in small rural schoolhouses.

A member of the West Auburn School Historical Society, Berry recently co-authored a book on the history of North and West Auburn. She has played the part of the schoolmarm at the West Auburn schoolhouse for more than ten years. (To book a visit, teachers may call her at 346-3106.) A native of Long Island, New York, Berry is a graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego and Teachers College of Columbia University. Her teaching career spanned 28 years in public schools and museums in New York State. She and her husband retired to Maine in 1996.

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Mini Maker Faire brings artists and innovators to L-A

The Maker Faire is coming to Maine! On Saturday, September 8, Museum L-A will present its first Lewiston-Auburn Mini Maker Faire from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bates Mill Atrium, 35 Canal Street in Lewiston. The event will provide a unique opportunity to learn from and tinker with inventors, scientists, students, artists, do-it-yourselfers and “makers” of all ages as they showcase their projects and inventions.

Nationally and internationally renowned performers EepyBird and AudioBody will headline the event, which celebrates creativity, craftsmanship, art, play (for both adults and children) and hands-on learning.

“The Museum’s inspiration to apply for the national license for the Mini-Maker Faire came from one of our prolific ancestor inventors, Adrien Jalbert,” said Museum L-A Executive Director Rachel Desgrosseilliers. “With a sixth-grade education, he showed the power of imagination and creativity that we often find in the oral histories of our local workers. We feel this is important to celebrate as a community”

The Maker movement attracts inventors, artists, craftspeople, fabricators, artisans and anyone who enjoys hands-on creativity. Museum L-A’s Mini Maker Faire is the in Maine and only the fourth in New England.

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Cyclist to pedal 2,500 miles from Calgary to Lewiston

Andy Bailes of Bowdoinham has been selected to participate in the Peloton Project, a documentary film that will follow 40 cyclists on a 2,500-mile, 10-day journey from Calgary, Alberta to Lewiston, Maine.

The riders will leave Calgary on October 3 and expect to arrive in Maine on Friday, October 12, just in time for Dempsey Challenge weekend festivities. Bailes’s goal is to raise $5,000 by October 1.

To support Bailes’s fundraising efforts, local brew pub Gritty McDuff’s has organized a cycling event called Gritty’s Triple, a 75-mile ride to from Gritty’s Freeport to Gritty’s Portland to Grittys Auburn and back to Gritty’s Freeport. The ride will finish with BBQ and brews at the Freeport location.

Bailes’s started riding in the Dempsey Challenge in 2010 in honor of his 24-year-old son, Brandon, a cancer survivor. This year, after the Peloton Project arrives in Maine, Bailes will once again ride in the Challenge and support The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing in Lewiston.

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CLT exhibit features historic performance halls of L-A

Ticket holders to Community Little Theatre’s “A Night at the Tony’s” fundraising event on Saturday, September 8 will get a sneak preview of a new exhibit of historic photographs entitled “L/A’s Storied and Historic Music, Dance and Theatrical Performance Halls and Performers: A Visual Photographic Retrospective to Remember.” The exhibit will be on display in the lobby, which CLT plans to use going forward as a gallery space.

Featuring vintage photographs of area performance and dance halls dating as far back as the late 1800s, the exhibit will include a diverse collection of original pieces submitted by local and regional history aficionados as well as select items provided by the University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection and the Androscoggin Historical Society.

“I think a lot of people will be amazed at how many performance, music, and dance halls there were in Lewiston and Auburn,” said curator Michael Koch. “Around the turn of the century, Lewiston and Auburn supported more than 25 various halls for entertainment, with traveling acts coming in from all over the country.”

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