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This week’s edition!

Schooner Estates chef an avid bird photographer

Guest Column

By Rachel Morin

AUBURN – The residents at Schooner Estates Senior Living Community in Auburn, learned early on, that Todd Hopkins, Assistant Director of Food Service, and well-known photographer of birds and wildlife would narrate his presentation on the beautiful birds he photographed on his many trips.

It was welcome news for the pandemic-wearied folks at Schooner Estates! They already knew of Todd’s love for birds, animals and all forms of nature. They also knew about his many photography collections.

 Bird watchers assembled early to hear accounts of all the birds Todd photographed near the Schooner Campus and beyond. They knew he would be able to give many details on each bird as the photos were viewed.

Todd Hopkins, Assistant Director Food Service at Schooner Estates in Auburn, is an avid bird photographer throughout the southern Maine area. He recently presented a selection of his photos of the colorful birds in their natural environment to residents at Schooner Estates. (Rachel Morin Photo)

And as each beautiful brightly colored bird photo rolled by, Todd would stop and tell us where he took the photo, the time of year, the bird’s habitat, food, and interesting details. The many dedicated birders in the audience enjoyed adding a few comments of their own.

It was a happy time, hearing and seeing something different rather than the latest news on the Corona Virus and guidelines on television and the statistics on nation and worldwide happenings and how things were in the world.

I spoke with Todd a few days later to learn more about his fascination with birds, nature, photography, and how it all started.

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Lewiston schools registration for Pre-K and Kindergarten

LEWISTON – Registration has been opened for Lewiston Schools for the 2021-22 school year for Pre-K and Kindergarten students.

Pre-K

Pre-K Registration Information for Lewiston Public Schools.

Must be 4 years of age on or before October 15, 2021

Please complete the Google Form (link provided) to put your child on the PreK List for Fall 2021.

Respective schools will coordinate scheduling appointments to complete registration
forms and gather necessary documentation once able.

REGISTRATION LINK:  https://bit.ly/LewistonKPKReg

QUESTIONS:  kinderprekreg@lewistonpublicschools.org

1-855-938-0648 ?????? ??? ???????? ???? ???????  

Haddi aad rabto in lagu turjumo warqadani, fadlan soo woo 1-207-212-1473

Pour vous faire  interpreter ce document, priere d’appeler le 1-855-938-0657

Para receber uma interpretacao desse documento, faz favor de ligar para 1-855-938-0657

For interpretation in Shqip (Albanian) Fasi, Kreyol Ayisyen (Haitian Creole), (Mandarin), and Pyccknn (Russian) please call 1-855-938-0656.

For interpretation in Español (Spanish), Ti?ng Vi?t (Vietnamese), and Ikinyarwanda (Kinyarwanda), please call 1-855-938-0648.

For interpretation of this document in other languages, please call (207) 795-4120.

Kindergarten

Kindergarten Registration Information for Lewiston Public Schools.

Must be 5 years old by October 15, 2021

*Students currently attending Lewiston Public Schools Pre-K do not need to participate in the K
registration process.

Please complete the Google Form (link provided) to put your child on the list for Fall 2021.

Respective schools will coordinate scheduling appointments to complete registration form and provide necessary documentation once able.

REGISTRATION LINK:  https://bit.ly/LewistonKPKReg

QUESTIONS:  kinderprekreg@lewistonpublicschools.org

1-855-938-0648 ?????? ??? ???????? ???? ???????  .  

 Haddii aad rabto in lagu turjumo warqadani, fadlan soo wac 1-855-938-0648.

 Pour vous faire interpréter cet email, prière d’appeler le 1-855-938-0648.     

 Para receber uma interpretação deste email, faz favor de ligar para 1-855-938-0648.

 For interpretation in Shqiptar (Albanian), Farsi, Kreyòl Ayisyen (Haitian Creole), ??? (Mandarin), ??????(Punjabi), and ??????? (Russian), please call 1-855-938-0647.

For interpretation in Español (Spanish), Ti?ng Vi?t (Vietnamese), and Ikinyarwanda (Kinyarwanda), please call 1-855-938-0648.

For interpretation of this document in other languages, please call (207) 795-4120.

Creating a more just society

Guest Column

By Sen. Libby

Dear Friend,

Two weeks ago, former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges against him — second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter — in the death of George Floyd. Like many of you, I remember the horror I felt when I first saw the footage of Chauvin murder George Floyd in the street, while Chauvin’s fellow officers stood by and watched.

While the trial verdict was certainly welcome news, it is the bare minimum of accountability we need to see. It is only the first step toward justice for George Floyd, his family, and the community that loves him still. Every person living in America, regardless of skin color, religion, sexual orientation, gender or economic status, must be able to trust that our justice system is there to protect them and their neighbors. That is the America we have promised to ourselves and our children. But we’re not there yet.  

I vow to do everything I can, as both a lawmaker and your neighbor, to help create a more just society, where we can all feel safe, respected and honored for who we are. In the Legislature, a big part of this will come from the important work of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations, which I am proud to support.  


Sen. Nate Libby (D-Lewiston), Maine District 21, the City of Lewiston. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Libby)
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LYAC fights food insecurity

From City of Lewiston

LEWISTON – After learning more about food insecurity within the Lewiston community, and knowing that 1 in 5 Maine children are food insecure, members of the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council (LYAC) wanted to step up and try to make a difference.

The group recently learned about various local efforts and initiatives to address the need for access to healthy foods, and has met with staff members from the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center & the Good Food Council of LA. Of particular interest is that the Nutrition Center food pantry, together with community partners, serves approximately 550 families a week.

The dialogue has resulted in LYAC establishing “Community Connections . . . LYAC Fighting Food Insecurity.”

LYAC will be donating & raising funds to purchase foods the Nutrition Center isn’t always able to provide, namely tomatoes, cassava leaves, plantain, bananas, oranges, and eggs. As such, LYAC will have a table at the Center’s Friday, May 14th, outdoor food distribution center at 208 Bates Street, Lewiston, with a variety of healthy foods for individuals to pick up. Food offerings will be available from 11 am – 2 pm.

If anyone would like to contribute to the food purchasing effort, they may write a check payable to the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council and mail it to: LYAC, c/o City Administrator’s Office, Lewiston City Hall, 27 Pine Street, Lewiston, ME 04240.

LYAC Chair Hope Rubito saod, “Food Insecurity is prominent in Lewiston, in Maine nonetheless. LYAC sees that and we want to contribute in any way possible to help those in need. Lewiston is our community, our home, and seeing our community members struggling with something like access to food is saddening and we’d like to combat that in any way we can.”

Sheri Blumenthal, Manager|Community Programs at the Nutrition Center, said, “We are excited to partner with LYAC on their Community Connections initiative and grateful for their generosity and willingness to learn and share about food insecurity in our community. Hunger has been a long-standing challenge in our city and across Maine which ranks 12th in the nation for food insecurity, and was greatly compounded by the pandemic. The St. Mary’s Food Pantry, part of the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, works alongside partners to provide a stable and reliable means for people to supplement their weekly groceries amidst an increasingly uncertain landscape. We have made a strong commitment to increase the variety of fresh produce we offer regularly and to include more culturally preferred and desired foods. LYAC’s initiative will help us reach this goal.”

Sexual assault awareness groups teach and help

By Nathan Tsukroff

AUBURN – April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, highlighting local groups that have been reaching out to Mainers to educate them about sexual assault and violence.

Sexual assault goes well beyond the obvious rape of a woman or an attack on an LGBTQ+ person.

Sexual assault can be something as simple as touching someone without permission, or body-shaming a person by calling them ugly or fat.

And sexual assault at any level can have lasting psychological effects, sometimes leading to dangerous and inappropriate behavior such as self-harming, drug use, and unsafe sexual activity.

Being aware that someone else’s behavior is wrong can help a person to avoid being assaulted, or report that behavior to prevent further assaults.

That’s where the advocates from Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services (SAPARS) provide help. Starting with young children in elementary school, the advocates provide education and a place for people to report assaults and violence. At schools, the SAPARS advocates teach classes on proper behavior with fellow students, such as maintaining personal space.

Bridget McAlonan, the Prevention Education Coordinator for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services in Androscoggin, Oxford, and Franklin counties, listens as a person shares her story. Advocates from SAPARS provide outreach to adults and children to help prevent assaults, and to assist after a sexual assault or violence has occurred. (Photo courtesy of SAPARS)

SAPARS provides services in Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin Counties, and the communities of Bridgton and Harrison.

There is a 24-hour Maine Sexual Assault helpline at 1-800-871-7741 for anyone who has been recently assaulted, or is suffering from the effects of a previous assault. There is also a statewide text and chat service, but it has apparently been suspended since January for maintenance/

The outreach at schools and in the local communities has changed dramatically under the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Previously, advocates from SAPARS were available at schools throughout Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties for students to drop in and talk about personal concerns or issues. Under pandemic rules, SAPARS advocates now work remotely via computer virtual sessions.

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Broadcaster live streams USM Huskies games

By Nathan Tsukroff

GORHAM – Watching springs sports at the University of Southern Maine is lots of fun . . . you just can’t watch the games in person during the pandemic.

Instead, you’ll be enjoying the Huskies on live streams over your computer or smartphone. And you’ll be hearing the voice of Sebastian “Bass” Pettitt as he calls the play-by-play for the games.

Pettitt began his announcing career in September, 2016, while working towards a Communications degree at USM. He was assisting men’s soccer coach Mike Keller as a team manager when the communications side of the USM Athletic Department asked him if he had any knowledge about broadcasting and communications.

“I told them I’d been around sports my whole life – it’s something I played and enjoyed . . . and I would definitely be able and willing to learn and lend a hand, and all of that, not really knowing where it was going,” he said.

Sebastian “Bass” Pettitt live streams the play-by-play for games for the University of Southern Maine Huskies throughout the year. Fans are not allowed at games during the pandemic, so this gives students and families the chance to watch live games on their computers or smartphones. (Photo by Olivia Holbrook, USM Athletics)

“At first it was just the fall sports, really just soccer, something I was comfortable working with,” Pettit said. “And there were days where people who were calling the games at that point in time weren’t able to . . . so I picked up field hockey, which wasn’t something I was really comfortable or knowledgeable in, but at the time we really just needed someone to do it, so it wasn’t just silent while the game was airing.”

Pettitt said he had to “pick up quite a bit of knowledge” to learn how to explain a game he had never really watched before.

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UMaine Extension online classes start in May

From UMaine

ORONO – University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a variety of online classes, starting in May.

Citizen science club May 5

UMaine Extension 4-H will offer a citizen science club for grades 4–8 meeting weekly 3:30–4:30 p.m. from May 5–June 9. 

This virtual 4-H citizen scientists club encourages youth to practice citizen science in their own backyard, with a variety of citizen science opportunities to consider, and report their observations while making connections with fellow citizen scientists in their community and around the state. Youth will need online access and the ability to take and share photos.

The club is free to join; enrollment is limited to 15 members. Register on the 4-H club webpage at http://bitly.ws/cV3d. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact 207.581.8206; sarah.sparks@maine.edu.

Healthy recipe series May 5

MACHIAS – UMaine Extension is offering a free, online nutrition series for families in Washington, Hancock, Androscoggin and Sagadahoc counties from 3:30–4:30 p.m. starting May 5, continuing each Wednesday through June 23.

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Legislation to Allow Drugs from Canada

From Sen. Collins

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) recently joined Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in introducing the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, legislation that would allow individuals to safely import prescription drugs from Canada, creating savings for consumers and bringing greater competition into the pharmaceutical market. 

 “Skyrocketing drug prices are making it more and more difficult for Americans to access the treatments they require.  As a member of the Senate Health Committee, addressing the rising costs of these medications is one of my top priorities,” said Senator Collins.  “The Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act combats the gaming that some brand companies engage in to unlawfully extend their market power and pricing controls by allowing the importation of medications from Canada.  This bipartisan bill will lower the cost of prescription drugs and allow Americans to have more options at the pharmacy.”

 “Prescription drugs continue to be too costly for many Maine people, forcing impossible decisions between filling a prescription or putting food on the table,” said Senator King. “Making matters worse, our neighbors to the North – who many Mainers conduct commerce with on a regular basis – have access to much more affordable medications, but outdated regulations prevent our citizens from accessing these lower-priced lifesaving drugs. Enough is enough – in the fight to reduce the burden of prescription drug prices on Maine people, we need to look for every possible opportunity to cut consumer costs, and allowing our citizens to import more affordable medications from Canada is one potential option. This is a bipartisan bill that can make a real impact on the life of Maine people; to support the health of our people, the Senate should quickly take up this important legislation.”

 The Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act would align federal policy with legislation passed in the State of Maine.

 In addition to Senators Collins, King, Grassley, and Klobuchar, the bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Gary Peters (D-MI).

First-timer crowned as Mrs. Maine America

By Nathan Tsukroff

DURHAM – A suggestion from a former Mrs. Maine America prompted Durham resident Alecia Jack to compete in her first-ever pageant, and she emerged the winner for 2021.

“I was approached by a former 20210 Mrs. Maine America (Christine Blake) and she asked if this was something I would be interested in,” Jack said.

“I asked if this is just a beauty contest, or is there more to it?” and was told there was “totally more to it.”

“There’s a lot of interaction with other women. These other women are very accomplished women, they are ‘power women’ and there’s a lot of networking between them and the business community. And so that’s what intrigued me,” Jack said.

Alecia Jack of Durham was crowned Mrs. Maine America in a pageant at the Doubletree Hotel in South Portland in early April. She will compete in the national Mrs. America competition in Las Vegas in November, with the winner of that pageant going on to the Mrs. World competition. (Photo courtesy of Alecia Jack)

Working as a Senior Claims Adjuster in the Property & Casualty Insurance world, Jack, 36 years old, has been married to her husband, Jason, for 13 years. They share two “fun-loving boys”, Bryson, 10, and Dawson, 6.

The pageant is part of the Mrs. World organization and took place earlier this month at the Doubletree Hotel in South Portland. As this year’s winner, Jack will go on to compete in the Mrs. America pageant in Las Vegas in November. The winner of that pageant will then compete for the international title of Mrs. World.

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Steps For Survivors will take place in May

From Safe Voices

AUBURN – Safe Voices domestic violence resource center will conduct Steps For Survivors, a virtual community event, during the month of May. 

The event challenges participants to collectively run or walk 4,400 miles, equal to the approximate number of square miles in the organization’s tri-county footprint.

Registration is open through April 30 at www.safevoices.org.

Event coordinator Becca Tinkham said, “Our goal for this event is to spread awareness about domestic violence and sex trafficking, and to engage the community in supporting every person’s right to feel safe and live free from violence.”

Safe Voices serves more than 1,700 survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking in Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties each year. The Steps for Survivors event is being conducted instead of the organization’s annual 5K event, in response to ongoing concern regarding COVID-19.

Unlike a one-day road race, Steps for Survivors participants set a personal goal and log their miles from May 1 to May 31. Safe Voices is also inviting participants to raise funds by collecting donations inspired by their walk/run efforts. All money raised will support local services for victims of domestic abuse and violence and sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Those wishing to support the cause from the comfort of their living rooms can donate $44 for the “Couch Potato” experience, which includes a surprise gift.

For the event’s top fundraisers, Safe Voices has partnered with The Woods Maine, a Norway-based brand, to raffle a two-night stay in The Treehouse, a luxury treehouse cabin designed by Pete Nelson. Additional incentives from local businesses will be raffled to participants who reach other goals and milestones.

Steps for Survivors is presented by Platz Associates.

Anyone needing support regarding a domestic violence or sex trafficking situation should call Safe Voices’ 24-hour helpline at 1-800-559-2927. 


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