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This week’s edition!

Dempsey Challenge 2021 is this weekend

Five things to know about this year’s event

From Dempsey Center

LEWISTON – The Dempsey Challenge presented by Amgen Oncology has been the flagship fundraising weekend in Lewiston for the Dempsey Center every year since 2009.

However, the pandemic forced the massively popular ride, run and walk event to become a virtual-only event for last year.

Almost 150,000 people participated in the virtual event in 2020, completing a months-long activity challenge on Strava, joining Dempsey Center founder Patrick Dempsey on an interactive Zwift ride or choosing their own fundraising challenge. Many missed the in-person camaraderie and spirit provided by the annual event, which raises money for the Dempsey Center.

The 2020 version of the Dempsey Challenge was still able to raise $1.2 million to continue their mission to make life better for people managing the impact of cancer. This includes cancer patients, survivors, care partners, and family members of all ages.

Needless to say, event organizers, Dempsey Center clients, riders, runners, walkers and volunteers alike are gearing up to be able to safely gather again for this year’s events. 

Patrick Dempsey greets runner Jennifer Anne Jordan at a previous Dempsey Challenge event. The local Dempsey Challenge walking events on Saturday will be centered at Simard-Payne Park in Lewiston. (Photo courtesy of Dempsey Center)

It was announced in June that the two-day event would return, Sept. 25 and 26 in Lewiston, as well as a Global Challenge for anyone interested in participating who can’t make it to Maine during the fall.

“There’s this pent-up excitement about being back out and doing something as a community,” Dempsey Center events manager Deneka Deletetsky said.

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King pushes White House to open northern border

From Sen. King

WA S H I N G T O N , D.C. – The Office of U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME) last week announced that Senator King and a group of his colleagues are urging President Joe Biden to begin allowing vacci­nated Canadians to travel to the U.S. through land ports of entry in the com­ing weeks.

Noting the economic and familial strains caused on states like Maine by the continued restrictions at the U.S.-Canada border, the Senators wrote a letter to the President urging him to lift travel restrictions at the end of this month, create a public plan to reopen land ports of entry to vaccinated Canadians, and appoint an interagency lead to spear­head coordination. In ad­dition to Senator King, the letter is signed by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Kirsten Gil­librand (D-NY), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

“As Senators who represent states along the northern border, our com­munities have been deep­ly affected by the restric­tions on travel. Many of our communities maintain close professional and per­sonal ties with communi­ties in Canada. Canadians come to our states to con­duct business, enjoy recre­ational opportunities, buy goods, and visit friends and family. The restrictions on non-essential travel across the border have greatly curtailed these activities and led to economic and emotional strain in our communities,” the Sena­tors wrote.

“We appreciate the need to prioritize the health and safety of the American public through reasonable restrictions on internation­al travel,” the Senators continued. “However, we believe that fully vaccinat­ed Canadians should be al­lowed to safely travel into the United States via land ports of entry. We urge you to lift these restrictions before October, provide a plan for reopening land ports of entry and appoint an interagency lead on U.S.-Canadian border re­strictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Claxton earns perfect voting score

From Maine Senate 

AUGUSTA – Sen. Ned Claxton (D-Androscoggin) earned a perfect score from Democracy Maine’s 2021 Legislative Scorecard for his voting record to clean up state government, get money out of politics and safeguard democracy.

Sen. Claxton was one of 15 members of the Maine Senate to earn a perfect score.

“Throughout my time in the Senate, I have prioritized legislation to ensure we have accessible and secure elections throughout our state for generations to come,” said Sen. Claxton. “In Maine, with our town clerks working hard to ensure accurate vote counts, we have one of the highest voter turnout rates in the nation, and we ought to build on that. I will continue working toward growing the number of voters who participate in our elections, reducing the influence outside money has in our campaigns, and protecting the fundamental right every American citizen has to the ballot box. At the end of the day, the more folks who participate in our elections, the better off we all are.”

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Surviving the Mere Point Boat Launch

Seniors Not Acting Their Age

By Ron Chase

When my octogenarian friend, Carolyn Welch, invited me to join her and companions for a sea kayak trip to Crow Island in Merepoint Bay, I eagerly accepted. 

Although scheduled for hip surgery a few days later, I found kayaking manageable and the proposed excursion was a modest one.

Her plan was to depart from Mere Point Boat Launch near the southern end of Merepoint Neck in Brunswick.

Carolyn’s trips are extremely well-planned and organized. The weather forecast was exquisite. Her intention was to ride an incoming tide north to Crow Island in the morning and return on an outgoing tide early afternoon. In terms of construction, parking, and amenities, Mere Point Boat Launch is the Cadillac of boat landings.

I’ve been launching kayaks at Mere Point Boat Launch since it opened about a dozen years ago. My regular pattern has been to line up with other boat owners and load and unload on the paved ramps. Why would anyone do otherwise? At some point, I became vaguely aware that a separate loading and unloading zone had been designated for kayaks about 100 yards from the water. Frankly, I ignored that option (as did most others) because it created unsafe conditions for kayakers and was discriminatory since motorized watercraft owners were allowed to use the convenient paved ramps.


A team of paddlers assemble on a paved ramp at Mere Point Boat Launch. (Ron Chase photo)

When I arrived at the boat landing for this trip, a kayaker from another group informed me the harbormaster was now enforcing the burdensome loading and unloading rule for kayakers. Further, for the first time, I learned there was a designated launch site for kayakers that entailed trying to hold and slide a long heavy kayak down a steep narrow wooden ramp while negotiating equally steep cement steps that literally end in the water at high tide. This ridiculously dangerous contrivance was a bad accident waiting to happen.

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Live theatre is back at The Public Theatre!

From Public Theatre

LEWISTON – After 18 months of being unable to produce a play, The Public Theatre is thrilled to be reopening.

The Theatre at 31 Maple Street in Lewiston will begin its 31st season on Oct. 15 with its postponed production of “Middletown”, which will be followed by a holiday production and a three-play subscription series starting in January.

New this season, The Public Theatre will also be offering an option to purchase a video on demand of a live performance of each play in the season that can be watched at home.

The public theatre has taken its decision to resume live performances very seriously, making the safety of everyone its top priority. The HVAC system has been upgraded with MERV filters throughout the building to meet or exceed all CDC guidelines for air circulation and filtration.

Following the lead of theatres on Broadway and cities across the country, including Boston, for the safety of its audiences, they are requiring the following protocols for Middletown and The Manhattan Short Film Festival:

• Proof of vaccination and the wearing of masks in the building will be required to attend. Their full COVID Safety Policy can be found at thepublictheatre.org.

• Social distancing (one empty seat on either side of your party) will be available upon request. Please call 782-3200 for assistance.

• For people who do not feel comfortable attending the theatre in person, access to a video-on-demand option of the production will be available during the second week of live performances.

• Free ticket exchanges will be available up to one hour before your ticketed performance time.

Manhattan Short Film Festival

The theatre will open its doors on Sept 24 and 25 at 7 p.m. to host the annual Manhattan Short Film Festival.

Ten short films selected from around the world will screen in over 500 cities on six continents over a one-week period including at The Public Theatre!

Audience members get to cast their vote for the winner.

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Legislators remember 9/11

From Maine Senate

AUGUSTA — On the 20th Anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Maine Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) reflected on the events of that day, and the years following.

“Most Americans remember where they were when they first got word that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York City. I was working in the woods well out of cell phone range and miles away from the closest television when my boss called me on the radio to say that a plane had hit a building in New York City. An hour later, he called to report that a second plane had hit a building. Soon after, we learned that it was an act of terrorism. To be honest, it was hard to wrap your head around at the moment; it didn’t seem like this could be real. It wasn’t until I saw the striking images of passenger planes colliding with the Twin Towers when the enormity of this tragedy hit me and I knew nothing would ever be the same. In the two decades that have followed the attacks, those emotions ring true today.

“On the 20th Anniversary of these terrorist attacks, we must remember the men and women who lost their lives in these horrific attacks and keep their loved ones in our thoughts. Although the attacks forever changed the lives of every American, the family members and loved ones of those who died saw their world shatter in more ways than one and then had to share that grief with an entire nation. 

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Mainers invited to read Catholic classics together

From Portland Diocese

LEWISTON—“I can’t believe 500 books went that quickly. Amazing.”

Fr. Daniel Greenleaf, pastor of Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston, was amazed by the overwhelming response to a new initiative that aims to bring people together, even if they’re apart, through the sharing of Catholic spiritual texts.

“Reading the Catholic Classics Together” will lead parishioners and community members through ten classic Catholic spiritual texts, page by page and chapter by chapter. Over the next few years, the parish will read the books together from the comfort of their own homes and then gather in small sharing groups or with Fr. Greenleaf on Monday nights at 6:30 in person at the hall of Holy Family Church or by using Microsoft Teams.

“Each week, the bulletin will provide a summary of the readings and questions for reflection and on Mondays, those interested will gather to discuss the week’s assignment. A link to the parish Microsoft Teams account will be provided for those who cannot gather but would still like to participate,” said Fr. Greenleaf.

Materials will also be available each week on the Prince of Peace website at princeofpeace.me. Interested parties from around the state can also go to the website and sign up to receive a weekly email that will include a link to an online discussion group and additional information at http://bitly.ws/gqcR

The first book up is Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales, which is frequently used as a guide in Christian spiritual direction.

“St. Francis, a doctor of the Church, wrote the text in 1608 and it has never been out of print,” said Fr. Greenleaf. “His focus is on spiritual lives for the laity who live in the world, stating that not only priests and religious are called to holiness but everyone has this vocation regardless of their state in life.”

The syllabus spreads the book out in increments of about 30 pages per week, so everyone can read it together from September 13 through early November.

Parishioners quickly jumped at the chance to participate. 

“I ordered 500 books for people who wanted physical copies to read from. At $5 per book to cover cost, they were gone before the last Mass of the weekend even began,” said Fr. Greenleaf.

Fortunately, the parish website has links for the free download of the text and the audio book for each of the books that will be read, and organizers hope that as the pages read and insightful experiences add up, so will the number of participants.  

“Today, with everyone’s busy schedule, we want to offer different kinds of opportunities to engage people,” said Fr. Greenleaf. “I hope this is only the beginning.”

Blue Mass in Lewiston Sept. 19

From Portland Diocese

LEWISTON—Hundreds of local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency personnel will be recognized for their faithful commitment and self-sacrifice at the Blue Mass on Sunday, Sept. 19

The mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m., at the Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul on 122 Ash Street in Lewiston.

People of all faiths are invited to attend and join in showing gratitude to these dedicated heroes. All active and retired members of the public safety community are encouraged to come with their families and in uniform.

National, state, and local dignitaries and elected representatives will also attend the Mass, including Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).

The Blue Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Robert Deeley.

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Cities seek to name bridge in honor of Jenkins

From City of Auburn

AUBURN – The cities of Auburn and Lewiston were expected to honor and celebrate the legacy of John Jenkins, the late Maine state senator and mayor of both municipalities, by renaming a footbridge in his honor.

The cities planned to vote this week on renaming the pedestrian footbridge that connects the cities as the “John Jenkins Memorial Footbridge.”

The Lewiston and Auburn city councils were each to consider and vote on the proposed footbridge dedication during their meetings on Tuesday.

Jenkins, who died in September, 2020, following a short but valiant fight against cancer, was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. He fell in love with the area while attending Bates College, graduating in 1974. He made Lewiston his home after traveling the world and competing in martial arts championships.

Jenkins was an exceptional athlete, becoming a member of the Lewiston-Auburn Sports Hall of Fame, World Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Maine State Sports Hall of Fame, and USA International Black Belt Hall of Fame. He also worked with local police departments, providing self-defense and de-escalation training and as a Maine Criminal Justice Academy instructor.

A mentor, community volunteer, personal trainer, martial arts instructor, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and more, John Jenkins was a dedicated and enthusiastic member of the Auburn-Lewiston community, serving as mayor of each city, winning once as a write-in candidate. He also served as State Senator for Maine’s 21st District – the first African American ever to be elected to the Senate.

“John was inspiring to so many in our community and beyond,” said Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque. “Whether it was his motivational speeches to school kids or his advocacy as mayor and senator, his love for people and for community was evident to all. Naming this bridge after a man that connects and connected the two great cities he loved is not just fitting, it is appropriate.”

Healthcare workers push back against vaccine mandate

Many fear the rapid rollout of new vaccines

By Nathan Tsukroff

AUGUSTA – “Operation Warp Speed” was intended to facilitate and accelerate the creation and distribution of a COVD-19 vaccine.

That very same rush to the finish line now has a percentage of Americans, both healthcare workers and regular citizens, concerned that the vaccines have not been tested enough or been around long enough to be safe.

Then-President Donald Trump announced OWS in May 2020 from the White House Rose Garden.

This parternership between the Departments of Health and Human Services and Defense helped to motivate companies around the globe to develop anti-virus vaccines, and the start of manufacturing during clinical trials, along with concurrent clinical trials, led to an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of the year for both the Pfizer-BioNtech and the Moderna vaccines. The Johnson and Johnson Janseen single-dose vaccine received emergency use authorization in February 2021.

Katie Rodzen of Greene, a registered nurse who started working at Maine General Hospital in Augusta shortly before the pandemic hit, said she doesn’t trust any of three vaccines against COVID-19

The current COVID-19 Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are manufactured, not made from small amounts of a virus.

Healthcare workers in front of the Maine State House protesting Gov. Janet Mill’s recent mandate that all healthcare workers must receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1.  There have been several protests at the State House over the past couple of weeks.  (Photographs by Kayla Lawrence)

This process, referred to as mRNA, or messenger RNA, inserts synthetic nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) into human cells using a coating of lipid nanoparticles. What is essentially a little piece of code created in the mRNA process is delivered to the cells in a person’s body. The code serves as an instruction manual for the immune system, teaching it to recognize the virus that causes COVID-19 and attack it, should it encounter the real thing.

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