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This week’s edition!

Meet a Franco Author: Steven Riel

USM’s Lewiston Auburn College’s Franco-American Collection is hosting Steven Riel Franco Author/Poet, the third featured of the FAC’s fie Meet-A-Franco-Author program, on Monday, February 24, 7 p.m. in room 170, 51 Westminster Street, Lewiston. The public is invited and welcome to attend!

Writers in the program series, “Franco-America at the Interstice of Identities,” explore the conjunction of their Franco identity with another identity that is also important to them. 

Denis Ledoux, FAC Program Chair and Board Member, relates, “Steven Riel writes implicated poetry that features both his Franco heritage and his gay identity. His poems give voice to the Franco-American community of his childhood, its narrative of survival and assimilation, and its uncomfortable relationship to homosexuality. His work also honors and attends closely to the history and culture of both communities that have shaped him and continue to shape him.” 

A native of Massachusetts, Steven Riel received an A.B. in English from Georgetown University and an M.L.S. from Simmons College. He is the author of one full-length collection of poetry, “Fellow Odd Fellow” (Trio House, 2014), as well as three chapbooks, including most recently, “Postcard from P-towns,” which was selected as runner-up for the inaugural Robin Becker Chapbook Prize and published by Seven Kitchens Press.

Riel’s poems have appeared in several anthologies including, “Lives in Translation” by Soleil Press and in numerous periodicals, including “The Minnesota Review” and “International Poetry Review.” The Lambda Literary Foundation selected him as a 2016 Fellow. 

Poetry editor of “RFD Magazine” from 1987 to 1995, Riel currently serves as editor-in-chief of the Franco-American literary e-journal “Resonance.” He received MFA in poetry from New England College where he was the recipient of a Joel Oppenheimer Scholarship and was the 2005 Robert Fraser Distinguished Visiting Poet at Bucks County (PA) Community College. 

FAC Program Chair Denis Ledoux explains “Our Meet-A-Franco-Author programs depart from previous Franco-American Collection curatorial focus. With this series, the FAC steps into the creative present all the while continuing to maintain and enhance our role as keepers of Franco stories for future generations. We have built a Q&A session into this series so that the audience will have time to engage in conversation with Steven Riel about his experience as a Franco and as a gay man.”

The Meet-A-Franco-Author programs are free of charge, thanks to a generous grant from the Québec Delegation in Boston and are open to the public—Franco-Americans and Francophiles alike. Members of the FAC are invited to attend a pre-reading reception with the author at 5:30 p.m. in Room 170.  For information on becoming a member, contact the office at (207) 753-6545.

Ron Currie, Jr., Maine fiction writer, will present March 23.  David Vermette, historian, will speak on April 27.  Born in Massachusetts, Vermette has family roots in Brunswick, Maine.

All programs will be held on Mondays at 7 p.m. in Room 170 at Lewiston-Auburn College of the University of Southern Maine, 51Westminster Street, Lewiston. Public is welcome.

Pinky D’s Poutine one year anniversary party

Celebrate Pinky D’s Poutine first anniversary of the restaurant! 36.5% off all poutine (for 365 Days)!
Event is all day (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.) with a Poutine Eating Championship at 2 p.m. Door prizes will include free poutine for a year, Red Sox tickets, gift cards and Beech Ridge Speedway tickets. DJ Cool V will be performing from 5 to 8 p.m. Pinky D’s will have free baby’s first birthday cupcakes. Side by Each Brewing will be serving Dooryard, a German Dunkelweizen with a special maple twist in celebration with Pinky D’s Poutine. You are not going to want to miss this awesome event! 

Maine Event Comedy presents Matt Barry at Craft Brew Underground

Maine Event Comedy presents New Hampshire’s Matt Barry at Craft Brew Underground, Friday, February 21 at 8 p.m. The show will also feature Al Ghanekar and David McLaughlin.

Barry has been a staple of the New England comedy scene for eight years. He’s performed in clubs, theaters, bars, and apartments. In 2013 he was crowned “New England’s Best Bar Comic” and in 2015, he took third place in “Last Comix Standing,” a competition between 120 comedians at Mohegan Sun Casino. He’s appeared on SiriusXM Satellite Radio and has opened for national acts including Tom Green, Gilbert Gottfried, and Harland Williams.

Portland’s Ghanekar left a full-time technology job to pursue stand-up comedy. He performs regularly throughout New England and has worked with national headliners at Gotham Comedy Club.  Ghanekar has even found stage time in Sydney, Australia, and Mumbai, India.

McLaughlin hails from Billerica, Massachusetts and is not shy about taking his familial issues to the stage. He produces the Clean Comedy Showcase at ImprovBoston and was selected for the 2018 Salem Comedy Festival.

The show is for ages 21-and-older; admission is pay-what-you-can. Craft Brew Underground is located at 34 Court Street in Auburn. It was voted the No. 1 Craft Beer Bar in Maine and offers more than 200 choices of craft beer, cider, and wine. For more information, call/text (207) 513-0742 or email maineeventcomedy@gmail.com.

Governor Mills: Home is where the heart is

A home is more than brick and beams and wood and maybe a barn and a little yard. Home is where my husband, Stan, and I raised five daughters. Where we sat at the kitchen table paying bills and helping with homework. It’s where we slept safely every night.

But for thousands of Maine families, a safe and affordable home is out of reach. 

Our state has one of the least affordable housing markets in the nation. In 2018, the average Maine renter’s wage was $11.44 per hour, while the hourly wage needed to rent a two-bedroom apartment was $18.73 an hour –ninth-highest in the nation. 

The waiting list for affordable housing has risen to more than 32,000 households. Over 20,000Maine households are on wait lists for federal rental assistance. 

And yet, for all of that, Maine is only producing 250 new affordable homes each year. 

Families that don’t qualify for affordable housing, or don’t have access to it, are paying outrageous rent prices. More than 35,000 renters in our state pay more than half of their incomes for rent and utilities. 

How do we expect to keep young families here, or to attract young families here, if there is no affordable place for them to live?

Last legislative session, Representative Ryan Fecteau — with cosponsors from both houses and both parties — introduced legislation to address this housing shortage. 

LD 1645 provides a refundable tax credit, similar to the Maine Historic Tax Credit, to create an additional 1,000 affordable homes over the next eight years, more than doubling our current production rate.  

At least 30 percent of the funding will go towards housing for seniors, 20 percent towards homes in rural communities, and 10 percent to renovating rural apartments.  

This investment will also trigger matching federal funds to stimulate job growth and economic activity in the construction, engineering and design sectors.

Three weeks ago, in my State of the State, I told the Legislature, “send this bill to my desk and I’ll sign it.”

Well, thanks to the bipartisan work of the Legislature, this week I did sign it.

You know they say home is where the heart is.

I believe the goal of ensuring that Maine people have a safe place to rest their head at night, a place where they can take care of their family, get ready for work and live with dignity and comfort is at the heart of this Administration.  

I was proud to sign this bill into law, and I hope it will allow us to say to thousands more Mainers, “Welcome Home”.

French sing along

Pictured l to r: Doris Bonneau, Mary Ann Leclerc, Louise Bolduc, Rita Gosselin, Gail Lawrence, Jeannine Doucette, Aliette Couturier and Jeannette Gregoire, pianist.

The public is invited to participate in a French sing-along at 1:30 p.m. Friday, February 21 in Room 170 at the University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn College.

Les Troubadours will lead in a selection of local Franco favorites! 

The sing-alongs are held from September through May. Admission is free. For more information, call 207-576-3212. Call the USM Stormline at 207-780-4800 to check for cancellations.

Honor Society at CMCC Earns Highest Rating

Heading up the Alpha Phi Xi Chapter of PTK this fall are left to right Judi Moreno, advisor; Kathe McPherson, president; Steve Ouellette, treasurer; Jeremy Pellegrini, public relations chair; Brandon Mastrorillo, reporter; and Kyle Matthews, vice president.

The Alpha Phi Xi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) at Central Maine Community College has achieved five-star status, the highest level of engagement offered by the international honor society for two-year colleges. The Chapter previously earned five-star status in 2010. It is now one of only two five-star chapters in Maine.

Phi Theta Kappa chapters have five levels of engagement that progress from local, campus involvement to regional involvement to international involvement. The Five Star Chapter plan is the roadmap guiding the chapter through the levels. Chapters use the plan as a guide for building a strong, active chapter.

To achieve five-star status, colleges must meet a rigorous set of requirements, including the submission of an “Honors in Action” project. A five-star chapter is the pinnacle of engagement in Phi Theta Kappa programming.

The Alpha Phi Xi Honors in Action project was focused on food insecurity among some CMCC students. The chapter conducted a survey that revealed that food insecurity was an issue and that some students were missing important meals. In collaboration with CMCC administration, chapter members have increased awareness of this issue on campus and have begun gathering non-perishable foods for distribution. Going forward, Alpha Phi Xi plans to ensure that free snacks and sandwiches are more readily available to CMCC students in need.

Children’s book by local author

Suzanne Caron

Suzanne Caron, resident of Greene, has just released the first in a series of children’s books entitled Winkle in the Lunchroom.  In this story, Winkle, a young owl, is sad about being ignored by its classmates.  Eventually, Winkle finds its superhero power, its voice.  This leads to a courageous act, empowering the little owl. The illustrations are simple and portray Winkle’s feelings throughout the book.

     Suzanne was recently invited to Geiger School to do a read aloud to the young story lovers.  She brings along her book buddy, a stuffed Winkle, giving it to a child to hold during the reading, establishing a stronger connection.

     You can purchase this book on Amazon or on the Barnes and Noble website.  If anyone is interested in booking a read aloud, has any questions or wants to purchase a book through Suzanne, please contact her at 754-8417 or through email suecaron56@gmail.com.

APL indoor homestead goods and farmer’s market

The Auburn Public Library invites all ages to one of their biggest family events of the year.  Join us on February 28 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. for our annual Homestead Goods and Farmer’s Market.  All the action takes place on the first floor of the Library. 

This festive event features live music by Rob Duquette, lots of great vendors and live animals.  The vendors will tempt visitors with a culinary delight of homegrown and homemade foods and treats, plus homestead crafts such as pottery and homemade soap.

The Auburn Public Library’s Farmer’s Market is free to the public and is one way the library thanks all our community members and community businesses for their wonderful support. 

Marcel Gagne to address Rotary Club

The guest speaker at the next meeting of the Lewiston-Auburn Rotary Club on Thursday, February 20, from noon to 1 p.m. will be Marcel Gagne.  The event will take place at the Village Inn at 165 High Street in Auburn.

Marcel Gagne is a Business Ownership Conversion Specialist with the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI), a New England non-profit. CDI assists and supports a Cooperative Economy with locally grown food, affordable housing/ownership, and business ownership solutions to existing businesses into co-ops through employee and community buy-outs. Business Ownership Services can assist with succession planning strategies, and/or business expansion solutions. CDI can also help with financial, feasibility, market, and business planning. Gagne also has an extensive background in workforce development and worked in community and economic development for a decade with a nationally known organization, CEI. He has a training background in customer satisfaction, interviewing skills, supervisory implementation & coaching, as well as being a qualified Myers-Brigs’ Type Indicator facilitator. 

Guests are welcome, and no reservations are required.  Lunch will be available at the restaurant.  For more information please contact Club President Celeste Yakawonis at celyak@megalink.net, follow us on Facebook, or see www.lewistonauburnrotary.org.


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