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This week’s edition!

Service dog needs surgery – plea for funding assistance

Diamond Accompanying Pam During at a Hospital Stay

Pam Whittier, of Auburn, has shed lots of tears since her service dog’s recent vet visit. The news was not good.  Diamond, a 5-year-old American Pitbull, is in urgent need of TPLO surgery (tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy), on her hind legs. Diamond’s ACL, meniscus, and fibula are currently impacted. The roadblock to get Diamond healthy is cost — $5,000 for the surgery. Whittier, who is cardiac disabled, cannot afford the surgery. 

Whittier, is a 38-year-old cardiac arrest survivor, has cardiomyopathy, tachycardia, and an implanted defibrillator.  She got Diamond as a rescue four days after her father passed away of the same heart disease in May of 2015. Diamond was then trained and certified as Whittier’s service dog. Since then, Diamond has been a lifeline for Whittier and is able to tell family members when Whittier’s heart rhythm is “off.” Whittier has had numerous cardiac procedures both locally and in Boston.

Whittier, who is completely devastated at the thought of losing Diamond, is currently spending her days cuddling and patting her. Diamond is being kept comfortable with pain medication, but the vet told Whittier that the medication cannot be used long-term, as they could negatively impact her vital organs.

A yard sale with proceeds to benefit Diamond’s surgery is being held August 8 and 9 at 114 Howe Street in Auburn from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. A Go Fund Me page has also been set up at gf.me/u/yifzwdWhittier notes, “We are praying for a miracle, and I am so grateful for anyone who can help me save Diamond. If my tears could save her, she would be in good shape by now.  Besides her hind legs, she’s in wonderful shape, and I need her so much as a support for what I endure with my heart. I cannot imagine my life without her.”

Out & About with Rachel Morin: Ten things to be positive about

Rachel and Liz take frequent walks along the ocean.

By Rachel Morin and Elizabeth Morin

My daughter Liz and I have been struggling with Covid-19 ever since mid-March.  We see our friends struggling as well.  

“It is hard and it’s getting harder.” says our friend Lucy.  

 “Our regular clocks are off” as noted on the 60 Minutes news (we like that one and repeat it often to each other), and our other favorite is one I came up with, “We have lost our bearings.” This last one really seems to resonate with us.  We have indeed lost our way.  Nothing feels right.  And yes, the simplest task takes effort and time.  It is hard.  For a few weeks, we found ourselves exhausted, frustrated, and crying at every news update.  But enough.  We have decided — with a little effort — to look for the positives to share with our friends and family.  Once we got going, it was not so hard.  This is a small start and we hope this will change our outlook.   Maybe there are many more positives that others will think of and share.  

Ten Things to be Positive About (In no particular order).

  1. I have more time to reconnect with my family. 

We are now making time with family count.  We actually schedule a time and place with a purpose in mind.  We call it a Soup Swap, but we don’t necessarily limit it to soup.  Not with the Morin foodies.  My family goes out of their way to outdo each other.  We gather in Liz’s back yard, bringing chairs, wearing masks, and each family brings something delicious packaged to go — a casserole, a soup, dessert, or a surprise.   We do this every month or so. Everyone looks forward to bringing home a different culinary experience.

  • Time to do big projects that we have procrastinated on.

 Oh, haven’t we pushed off many a big project “for when we have time!”  And of course, more projects are added for that elusive time going by.  Seeing as I am staying at Liz’s house temporarily, she gets the benefit of this.  I’ve already written about organizing her garage, but now, we have also tackled closets and eaves.  Lucky Liz!

  • Free time to garden more!

We both love gardening.   And despite the pandemic, we still got spring fever.  We were ready to plant flowers—annuals and our favorite perennials and vegetables.  We visited our two favorite greenhouses to peruse this year’s seedlings. We spent an entire weekend “putting in the crops” as Liz says, and we were exhausted but quite pleased with our efforts.  Each morning, we take a walk through the garden with our coffee and notice each new blossom.  

Seniors Not Acting Their Age: Riding the narrow gauge

Cyclists arrive at the Stratton Brook Hut Trailhead on the Narrow Gauge Pathway

By Ron Chase

One of the most unique bike trails in Maine is the historic Narrow Gauge Pathway in Carrabassett Valley. The trail follows the former Kingfield and Dead River Railroad bed used to convey logs to a sawmill situated in Bigelow at the northern terminus of the railway in the early 20th century.  Two-foot narrow gauge tracks were chosen instead of the standard size because they were easier to build and less expensive.  An added benefit, the smaller locomotives were able to operate more efficiently in the rugged mountainous terrain.  Passengers and freight were also transported on the once bustling train system. Disuse resulted in discontinuance of the railroad in 1927. The Town of Carrabassett Valley constructed the pathway in 2001.

Traveling next to the boulder-strewn Carrabassett River located in a deep valley between Sugarloaf Mountain and the Bigelow Mountain Range, serene and scenic describe the bucolic 5.2 mile crushed-stone and dirt surface trail. Wider hybrid or mountain bike tires are required on the rough surface.  Motorized vehicles including ATVs and snowmobiles are prohibited.  The trail is groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter.

Separated by the pandemic part 7: Schooner Estates

John Rice, Director of Operations for Schooner Estates, in front of the outdoor visitors’ area that the facility created to allow tenants to meet face-to-face with their family or friends. Separated by the double fencing, everyone is required to wear a mask for the face-to-face visits. (Photo by Nathan Tsukroff, PortraitEFX)

The following story is the seventh and final interview by Nathan Tsukroff of PortraitEFX to capture the effects of this pandemic on the people of Maine. 

Slowly but surely, restrictions surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic are starting to ease. For healthcare facilities such as Schooner Estates, a retirement community in Auburn offering independent and assisted living options for senior citizens, easing restrictions does not mean easing the care and oversight for the health of tenants and residents.

Currently, entrance to the building is only through the main front door, where everyone is greeted by a staff member for temperature checks and verification that they do not have any symptoms or known exposure to the Covid-19 coronavirus. 

Cindy Swift, RN, the Director of Nursing Services at Schooner Estates, said the facility has “a good medical team that is checking in on folks, too, making sure they’re not feeling isolated. And making sure that if there’s needs – like they’re not feeling great, that we get them seen, and set up a video visit with their doctor, if that’s the best way to support them during the isolation, and then get their needs met as well, medically.”

“That’s been working out really, really well,” she said. “We see the changes from the factors in the isolation that come into play, where they’re feeling more isolated and socially disconnected. But I think Schooner’s done a fabulous job, and we have tenants that are innovative and coming up with their own solutions” so they can visit with each other while still maintaining the necessary social distancing.  Residents and tenants are staying six feet apart indoors, while the spring and summer weather is allowing for outdoor visits and activities. “We’ve done a couple birthday parades where family members have come through and really done a lot of celebration that way”.

St. Mary’s welcomes Patricia A. Scherle as VP

Patricia A. Scherle 

St. Mary’s Health System recently welcomed Patricia A. Scherle as its Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer. Pat will lead St. Mary’s nursing staff as well as oversee the implementation and coordination of programs and initiatives to ensure patients consistently receive the very best clinical care.  

“I was pleased to welcome Pat, who has extensive experience working in mid-sized hospitals and medical centers, to our health system and nursing team,” said Katherine Bechtold, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, Covenant Health. “She has an excellent track record of improving both patient and staff experiences. I look forward to her contributions in expanding St. Mary’s reputation in the community for exemplary care.” 

“I’m honored to serve the St. Mary’s nursing team and clinical teams, as well as the community, to ensure we’re always striving to improve the quality, safety and delivery of patient care,” said Scherle. “Our ultimate goal is to reinforce St. Mary’s standard for clinical excellence, which will directly impact positive patient outcomes.”

Prior to joining Covenant Health, Scherle was the Vice President/Chief Nursing Officer at Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa., a 148-bed non-profit community teaching hospital. Her tenure at Tower Health | Community Health Systems, which includes Chestnut Hill Hospital, spanned 10 years in various leadership roles at multiple hospitals. 

Scherle holds a Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa. and earned her Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA) from Widener University in Chester, Pa. She is also a Nurse Executive Advanced – Board Certified (NEA-BC) as well as a registered nurse (RN).

Modern Woodmen matching gift to CLT

The L-A Community Little Theatre (CLT) received a contribution of two thousand, five hundred dollars earlier this month from the Modern Woodmen of America Matching Funds Campaign. The gift was made in support of the very successful online silent auction that CLT held in June.  Financial Representative Mike Courtemanche from the Modern Woodmen Lewiston office noted that “as a fraternal company, we help the community in many different ways.  One of our more popular programs is our matching funds program, which is meant to get us into the community, help raise money and strengthen the community.” Courtemanche is pictured at right presenting the “big check” to Jennifer Groover, vice president of the CLT Board of Directors.

CMCC president Scott Knapp to retire in August

Scott Knapp

Maine Community College System President David Daigler has announced that Dr. Scott Knapp, president of Central Maine Community College in Auburn, is retiring on August 31, 2020.

Dr. Knapp, who took office in August of 1997, has overseen a tripling of the college’s enrollment, the bolstering of technical programs offerings, and the addition of three new campus buildings and an athletic complex. 

“Scott proudly regards CMCC as the crown jewel of the Maine Community College System. With strong financial stewardship, ever increasing enrollments, championship-caliber programs and dedicated staff, his leadership has guided CMCC to an enviable place in Maine and in the country,” Daigler said.

“Maine, the community colleges, and I will miss Scott’s vision, wisdom and calm, stable guidance,” Daigler said. 

Dr. Knapp, the longest serving college president in the state, said some of his proudest moments have come in recent months. 

“While the College has experienced tremendous growth other the 23 years, none of this could have been accomplished without the contributions of our dedicated faculty and staff, as well as the generosity of the leadership of the state of Maine and her citizens,” he said. “I am especially proud of the nearly 500 students who overcame numerous obstacles and graduated this spring.” 

Separated by the pandemic part 6: A new normal

The following story is the sixth of several interviews being done by Nathan Tsukroff of PortraitEFX to capture the effects of this pandemic on the people of Maine. 

At the beginning of March, “normal” was visits from family, dinner with neighbors, and outings every Wednesday to interesting places for residents at Schooner Estates throughout the greater-Lewiston and Auburn area. Then came the novel coronavirus – Covid-19.

     It’s taken a while, but tenants and residents at Schooner Estates in Auburn are getting used to a “new normal”. The facility is a Central Maine retirement community offering independent and assisted living options for senior citizens.

     For a couple of months, visits with families were only through closed windows or glass doors while talking on the telephone. Meals were served to apartments individually, and chats with neighbors took place six-feet apart from behind facemasks.

     Peggy Roberge, a three-year tenant at Schooner Estates, can now visit with a couple of family members across a newly-constructed visitors area outside the front of the building. While still wearing facemasks, she gets to enjoy their laughter and voices in person and tenants can make reservations to enjoy meals in the dining area, with seating limited to ten people.

Seniors Not Acting Their Age: Exploring New Meadows River

Tenacious is how I would describe my longtime friend and Brunswick resident, Carolyn Welch.  An octogenarian, she has endured several months of physical setbacks followed by the difficulties and uncertainties of the pandemic.  I suspect even the most ardent outdoor enthusiasts among us would lie low for the summer.  Not Carolyn. 

Despite the fact that all of the outdoor clubs she’s affiliated with cancelled trips, Carolyn was not to be deterred.  If you’re a friend of Carolyn and love the outdoors, you’re the beneficiary of her resolve.  Recently, I received her “unofficial paddle trips with friends” summer sea kayak schedule.  First on the agenda was New Meadows River located between Bath and Brunswick.  Technically not a river, New Meadows is a tidal inlet off from Casco Bay.  

The Androscoggin Historical Society opening Knight House

One of Auburn’s oldest structures, the Knight House was built in 1796. This small Cape Cod-design building is located on the Auburn Riverwalk near the West Pitch Park. An adjoining one-room shoe shop contains tools and equipment that demonstrate how some Auburn residents made their living at that time in the city’s history. 

The Knight House is not the oldest house in Auburn — it is the oldest frame house in the Goff Corner area, which is downtown Auburn, and is typical of houses built at the time.

Records show that the house has had 12 owners and was moved six times. It originally was located on Cross Street near North River Road, nearly a mile from the present site. It probably was originally built on a 100-acre tract by settler Caleb Lincoln, a Revolutionary War veteran who soon conveyed it to Hezekiah Wyman, of Bath.

After a succession of six owners, the house was sold to Nathaniel Knight in 1864. Knight had it moved to growing Goff’s Corner village, which began near what is now the corner of Court and Main Streets.

The Knight House is mainly furnished in a style and function typical of the time the Knight family occupied the home, late 1800s, early 1900s, although there are notable exceptions.  Some of the kitchen utensils weren’t invented until the 1940s, for example.

Do you wonder about what daily life was like in this home?  The Androscoggin Historical Society (AHS) invites you to an Open House on Wednesday, July 15 from 12 to 3 p.m.  This Wednesday is laundry day, so expect to see family doing the laundry and related tasks.  No, you do not need to bring your laundry — there will be plenty on hand.  

AHS hopes you’ll stop by and see this local historical gem right in downtown Auburn.  While tours and participation are free, the Society depends on donations to offer these programs to the public.  


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