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Greetings from Auburn and Lewiston Mayors

As the Mayors of the beautiful sister cities of Auburn and Lewiston, we want to share our thoughts on the Coronavirus pandemic. Our cities – and the people who live in Androscoggin County — are strong and resilient, and we assure you that, together, we will get through these uncertain times. 

It’s an unsettling time locally and nationally, however, we as people have not changed. The residents of Androscoggin County are people of perseverance, heart and determination, and we will come out on the other side of this challenge standing stronger than ever before. 

Every person in this county is important and deeply valued. However, in a time of isolation, it is natural to feel disconnected and perhaps even afraid. 

With increased precautions and social distancing as our new normal, what can we do to support ourselves and each other? We can stay in contact with each other through phone, text, video chat, email, and even good, old fashioned cards and letters. And when we do connect, making an effort to convey strength and comfort can make all the difference. Share encouraging words, pray for each other, communicate about your feelings, fears, and emotions during this time, and remember to share CDC safety precautions with loved ones of all ages. 

As a symbol of the unity within all of Androscoggin County, we ask local churches and faith- based organizations to “sound their bells” at noon each day until this crisis is behind us. It is our hope that the sounds of the bells will serve as a meaningful reminder that we are not alone. 

We are navigating a “new normal” together, and although, we are not physically shoulder-to-shoulder, Androscoggin County residents have the heart, courage and strength to face our challenges, make safe choices, and demonstrate — albeit from a distance — kindness, compassion and mutual support for each other. 

We encourage faith-based organizations that don’t have an actual bell to ring to commit to some other activity at noon each day. It can be anything: a daily message on your FB page; a short video, encouraging people to keep faith; a daily noon-time email to parishioners; some small gesture to help build each other up through uplifting, positive, inspiring messages. 

So, let’s “sound the bells” to remind us all to have faith; faith in each other, in ourselves, and in our neighbors, leaders and communities. 

Mayor Jason J. Levesque, Mayor of Auburn

Mayor Mark A. Cayer, Mayor of Lewiston 

Out & About with Rachel Morin: Rachel Carson Refuge

Rachel at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge Timber Point Sign. Photo by Elizabeth Morin.

By Rachel Morin

A couple weeks ago, my daughter, Elizabeth, son, Gerry, daughter-in-law, Debbie and I, living in three different towns, decided to meet at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge at Biddeford Pool for fresh air, exercise and social distancing. 

We took advantage of the sunny day for a walk in the Park’s beautifully maintained nature trail which ran alongside the ocean.   

It is an easy route, short enough for mostly anyone to walk (1 ¼ mile) with a wide flat trail. There are stunning views, marshes, woods and ocean. The trail is well maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with clear signs and helpful information.  

The old Ewing property built in 1931, is still standing and is worth a look.  There are plenty of places along the trail to rest and enjoy the scenery.  There was a lot to see across the seawater as we looked at Sandy Point and noticed two people walking along the large sandy beach. Later in our walk, we looked across the water and saw Timber Island on Little River.  The island is accessible by a land bridge, but only at low tide. 

The Refuge was all to ourselves, quiet and meditative, as we walked along, calling  out to each other from our single file, 6 ft distancing, when we would see special sights we wanted to share — a bird’s nest in the crook of a small tree, low bushes covered with small red berries,  a raised wooden platform to see points of interest across the seawater.  

My son found a small seashell with an array of orange shades — so beautiful.  I have it now on my indoor garden bench which holds my potted plants.

At the end of our walk we were surprised to only have seen a young family with three small children — one toddler in a carriage and two little ones, walking sturdily along.  We exchanged “hello” waves and kept moving along in our single file formation. Times sure have changed, as in the past, we would have exchanged social comments, especially with the cute youngsters bobbing along.

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 in cooperation with the State of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Located along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of eleven divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth.

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1966 in cooperation with the State of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Located along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of eleven divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth.

“It is an extraordinary place — peaceful, breathtakingly beautiful. One is struck by how unique and special it is, and how important it is that such places are preserved in a time when our environment is under siege. The Ewing legacy and the Rachel Carson Preserve are priceless.” (Comment by an anonymous person who wrote about the Refuge). 

We all agreed that our walk was lovely. My daughter Liz expressed further, “ It seemed so far removed from all the sad and tragic happenings in the world around us.  It is a warm spring day and we enjoyed the scenery and each other.  What a visionary Rachel Carson was to protect this land for all generations.  We are fortunate to live in Maine and have such easy access to it.”

Rachel Carson was a world-renowned marine biologist, author and environmentalist who served as an aquatic biologist and editor-in-chief for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. She has been credited with launching the contemporary environmental movement and awakening the concern of Americans for the environment.

The Fish and Wildlife Service named one of its refuges near Carson’s summer home on the coast of Maine as the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in 1969 to honor the memory of this extraordinary woman.  Rachel Carson died from cancer in 1964 at the age of 57.

April 2020 will mark the 58th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book, “Silent Spring.”  By publishing it, Carson has been credited with launching the contemporary environmental movement and awakening the concern of Americans for the environment.  Governor Janet Mills has discouraged attendance at beaches, state parks and playgrounds.  They are too crowded. 

You might consider visiting some of Maine’s wild areas.  Here are a few around southern, central and mid-coast Maine:

The Basin Preserve, Basin Road, Phippsburg: More than eight miles of trails and four miles of coastline make up this 1,846-acre preserve managed by The Nature Conservancy. The property protects important estuary habitat.

Seven ways to support Androscoggin businesses

Image credit: pixabay.com

By Kayt Myers

The temporary shutdown of many local businesses and the order for restaurants and bars to close has left many of us asking how we can best support small businesses during this crisis. If you can financially do so, please consider going out of your way to support locally owned Androscoggin County businesses and organizations right now. Here are seven ideas on how to do that:

1. Order takeout

Bars and restaurants have been ordered closed, but many are finding ways to offer takeout. Some are even offering delivery services for the first time. Call your favorite local restaurants or visit their social media pages to find out what alternatives they’re offering customers. 

2. Change your habits

You might only grocery shop at big box stores typically. Those large businesses have more resources to help employees and stay in business throughout this crisis. Instead, think about shopping at places locally owned and operated. You may even find some of those businesses are better stocked in much sought-after items.

3. Plan ahead

Have a birthday party or other gathering to plan for later this year? Reserve a location or entertainer now. That support — and a down payment — will give small business owners a boost during a scary time for them. 

4. Adopt a shelter pet or foster

You likely find yourself with a little more time on your hands right now and are hopefully home a whole lot more — along with other members of your family. It’s the perfect time to think about adopting a shelter pet. Not only will you have more time and extra hands for feeding, house training, and behavior training but you will be helping our local shelters by offering a home for an animal in need. Many shelters have limited hours or are closed — but still adopting by appointment. If you are not in a position to adopt, consider fostering or donating items that shelters need instead. 

5. Buy gift certificates

Almost any business will allow you to buy a gift certificate for later use. Most have online options. That will give them the cash they can use now to pay bills and employees, and you can look forward to spending it when restrictions have lifted. Gift certificates aren’t just for restaurants — think about businesses ranging from hair salons to doggy daycares. 

6. Don’t ask for your money back

Extracurriculars canceled? Gyms closed? Daycare shuttered? Consider asking for makeup classes or time rather than asking for your money back. They need every penny you can afford to offer right now to stay solvent and pay employees.

7. Donate to local food banks

Food banks are crucial to helping families suffering financially during this crisis — like laid off restaurant workers, retail employees, and others. You can often make cash donations online or call ahead to arrange a drop off donation.

Governor Mills: We are feeling grief, but we also know hope

Last Friday the State of Maine joined countless friends, families, communities, states and countries across the world in mourning the loss of an individual who had COVID-19. A sad day. A sad week.

In the past several weeks, in the face of this unprecedented challenge, Maine people have stood together.

We faced these times as we always have — with courage, compassion and commonsense, with generosity and patience, and with hearts open to one another. In this moment of grief in our state, we stand side by side still. 

One author said that her mother taught her never to look away from another person’s pain. She said, never look down. Never pretend not to see hurt. Look people in the eye, even when their pain is overwhelming. And find people who can look you in the eye when pain overwhelms you.

We all need to know we’re not alone — especially when we are hurting. To the family grieving the loss of someone they loved — I know you are hurting, but you are not alone. I hope you hear me when we say we are all family. And we stand by your side.

To the people of Maine – this news will no doubt worry many of you. I can’t say that we won’t suffer more losses before this is over, but know that we will get through this as Mainers, looking each other and looking the world in the eye – together, no matter the distance between us now.

We do need to maintain our distance. That’s why, based on guidance from the Federal CDC and the State CDC, I have required that all non-essential businesses and operations in Maine close their physical locations to the public, meaning that those who allow customer, vendor or other in-person contact can no longer do so.

I have strongly recommended that all essential businesses like grocery stores immediately reduce congestion in their stores by doing the following: For big box stores limiting customers to no more than 100 people at a time; Issuing curbside pick-up and delivery services; Staggering their hours for shoppers of a certain age; Closing fitting rooms – this is no time to go out and buy a dress; Cautioning customers against handling merchandise that they are not buying; Marking six-foot measurements by the cashier stations and reminding people to remain six feet apart; Staggering break times for employees and requiring frequent hand-washing; And regularly sanitizing high-touch areas, like shopping carts.

Please, go to these stores only when you need to. Just because a store is allowed to be open doesn’t mean it’s safe to go there. Go with a list, touch only the things you are buying, and don’t bring your entire family with you or friends.

Above all, stay away from other people. Stay home and leave home only when absolutely necessary. Take walks and exercise, buy things like groceries, go to work if your job is essential and if you can’t work remotely – but stay six feet away from other people – stay home as much as humanly possible.

Don’t take chances. And if you come from another state, you should self-isolate for 14 days, please. If you’re coming back from Florida, driving up from New York or Boston to a summer home, self-isolate for 14 days.

The life you save may be your own. It may be your child’s. It may be your neighbor’s or your parent’s or grandparent’s. But it will save a life.

Things will get worse before they get better. But they will get better if we all pull together and do what we have to do right now. And it means staying home. We will get through this because we stand together. We will get through this because we are Maine.

On the mantle in my room there is a quote from Emily Dickinson – I think about it every day: “Hope is thing with feathers/That perches in the soul/And sings the tune without the words/And never stops at all.”

We are feeling grief. But today — and every day — we also know hope.

I hope that God blesses every one of you and yours and keeps you all safe. And God bless the State of Maine.

Call to action: Local businesses need our help

By Mayor Mark Cayer

Dear Fellow Community Members, 

Lewiston’s largest employer consists of local businesses who employ our neighbors—our friends and family members. These businesses need your help more than ever. 

Governor Janet Mills has made the difficult decision to close all dine-in establishments and bars and recommended the closure of all other non-essential businesses for the next two weeks. I believe these closures may be extended. 

Two weeks of no income or reduced income threatens the survival of our local businesses. In fact, right now, our community is at risk of losing 40% to 50% of its businesses. 

How Can We Help? 

Our businesses are there when we need them. They regularly provide us with quality products and services, support our non-profits, donate to school/community fundraisers, and are assets to Lewiston. Now, they need us!

Please reach out to our local businesses and support them now! 

In efforts to remain open, to keep people employed, and serve the community safely by following CDC guidelines, many of our restaurants are offering food to go, and retail businesses are providing curbside pick-up and delivery options. Even breweries and wine and beer shops are finding creative ways to continue to operate for their customers. 

From flower shops to variety stores and from retailers to service providers, they need us today. If you prefer to support them remotely, you may purchase gift cards online or by phone. Each transaction makes an immediate impact for our local businesses who have given so much to this City. Also, one innovative way you can double your help is to purchase a gift card that can be donated to an area non-profit. 

Earlier this week, I asked City staff to begin an immediate outreach to our small businesses and now ask Lewiston’s State and Federal delegations who have been working tirelessly for our community to be part of this immediate call for action. 

Also, I call upon the city’s largest businesses and institutions including the City of Lewiston, Lewiston Public Schools, Bates College, Central Maine Medical Center, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, and any other business on solid footing to immediately find innovative ways to shift as much purchasing as they can to our local small businesses. Gift cards to recognize your employees are just one small way you can make a difference for your neighbors and community. Residents and larger businesses, if you can show your commitment to our community during this difficult time by buying something from a Lewiston establishment, it will make a difference! Please utilize their social media or call ahead to see how you can avail yourself of their products and services under these tough conditions. Our small businesses are innovative and resourceful, and that’s what keeps them going. Let’s help them do just that by demonstrating how important they are to you and the City of Lewiston!

American Pickers looking for L/A Collectors

Do you know any collectors in the greater Lewiston-Aburn area? The hit TV show American Pickers has asked us to reach out to our readers and spread the word that they are looking for collectors.

Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz and their team are excited to return to Maine! They plan to film episodes of the hit series American Pickers throughout the area at the middle to end of July 2020.

They understand that with the proliferation of COVID-19, everyone is facing very uncertain times, and everything is changing daily. The staff at American Pickers is taking this pandemic very seriously and will be adjusting their schedule accordingly for the safety of those who appear on the show and their crew. However, they are excited to continue to reach the many collectors in the area to discuss their years of picking!

American Pickers is a documentary series that explores the fascinating world of antique “picking” on History. The hit show follows Mike and Frank, two of the most skilled pickers in the business, as they hunt for America’s most valuable antiques. They are always excited to find sizeable, unique collections and learn the interesting stories behind them. 

As they hit the back roads from coast to coast, Mike and Frank are on a mission to recycle and rescue forgotten relics. Along the way, the Pickers want to meet characters with remarkable and exceptional items. The pair hopes to give historically significant objects a new lease on life, while learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way. Mike and Frank have seen a lot of rusty gold over the years and are always looking to discover something they’ve never seen before. They are ready to find extraordinary items and hear fascinating tales about them. American Pickers is looking for leads and would love to explore your hidden treasure. If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques that the Pickers can spend the better part of the day looking through, send them your name, phone number, location and description of the collection with photos to americanpickers@cineflix.com or call 855-OLD-RUST. Find them on Facebook @GotAPick.


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