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Making Sure We Support Our First Responders

 Guest Column by Sen. Ned Claxton

AUGUSTA, ME (September 2, 2022) — It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on our nation. I know for me and so many other Americans, we can remember right where we were when we heard the news. Many of us sat there glued to our televisions, struggling to grasp the reality of the situation. It was a dark day for our country – nearly 3,000 people perished. We were shaken to our core. Among the pain that was felt, both by loved ones of the victims but also by Americans as a whole, there were those who made heroic efforts that day to save as many people as possible. These first responders displayed a truly remarkable amount of courage. On Sunday, Sept. 11, I will be attending the Auburn Fire Department’s ceremony honoring these heroes, as I have done for years. This is always a solemn but special ceremony, and I would encourage you to join if you’re able. It will take place at 8:15 a.m. at 550 Minot Ave. in Auburn.

In the Legislature, my colleagues and I know how critical our first responders and EMS personnel are, and we have worked to support them and help resolve the longstanding issues they face. One of the toughest issues is the workforce shortage, and while it’s hardly limited to EMS departments in Maine, the stakes are much higher when we can’t find folks to be there for us in our most dire times of need. Rural Maine communities have struggled the most with this in recent years, and despite EMS workers going above and beyond, working long hours and doing all they can to serve the community, we simply can’t get around the fact that we need more people in this profession.

One new law we passed this year established a new Blue Ribbon Commission to examine these issues. The commission, which had its first meeting on Sept. 1, will look for ways we can ensure EMS services are available to all Mainers, attract workers, improve workforce development, and more. There’s no doubt that these are complicated issues with no one simple solution, but by getting lawmakers, advocates and EMS personnel in a room together to discuss them, I’m hopeful that we will come away with recommendations that will make a real difference. 

Another new law we passed this year established a grant program for communities across Maine to plan for the future of EMS services in their area. Again, the workforce shortage is a huge issue. One disturbing statistic shows that Maine EMS departments have lost over 20 percent of personnel since 2013. This grant program will allow a department to plan for long term sustainability in a process known as “Informed Community Self-Determination.” This is where experts in rural EMS delivery work with local service providers in order to look at the department’s strengths, weaknesses, challenges and prospects for the future to become sustainable in the long term. That information is then shared with the folks in the community as a whole, so everyone can be knowledgeable about the current state of the department and be involved in shaping steps to move forward. We need to plan for the future and this new grant program will help us do that.

EMS providers do incredible, heroic work on a daily basis and are vital members of our community. However, they have been overworked, and faced too many challenges on their own without enough support. My colleagues and I are working hard to change that reality, so these folks can do their job, and Mainers can know that someone will be there to help when they have an emergency. I’m proud of the progress we were able to make in the last year.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact me by email at Ned.Claxton@legislature.maine.gov or by phone at (207) 287-1515.  

Nor’easters & Maine-ly Harmony “Singing Together Again”

AUGUSTA, ME (September 1, 2022) — The Nor’easters men’s barbershop chorus, based in Bath/Brunswick, directed by Kathy Robitaille, and Maine-ly Harmony women’s barbershop chorus, based in Augusta, directed by Kathy Greason, are pleased to be “Singing Together Again!” after two years of Pandemic silence! 

However there seems to be a hitch!  It’s a battle of the choruses when the women declare in song that they can do anything better than the men.  “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” is a show tune composed by Irving Berlin for the 1946 Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun.” 

The fun begins on Saturday, September 17, 2022, at 2 p.m. in the South Parish Congregational Church in Augusta.  For advanced ticket information to “Singing Together Again”, contact Barbara Combs at becombs@comcast.net, Kathy Robitaille at kattsy2@yahoo.com, Nancie Hugenbruch at 293-4779, or Lea Davis at 622-1273.

Below: The Nor’easters Men’s Barbershop Chorus and Maine-ly Harmony Women’s Barbershop Chorus. Photos courtesy of Kathy Robitaille and Lea Davis.

Help Local Families and Win a Trip to Paris with Veggies to Table

NEW CASTLE, ME (August 26, 2022) — Veggies to Table, a non-profit farm that grows and donates organic produce to locals experiencing hunger, and flowers to bring joy, is excited to announce a once-in-a-lifetime French inspired sweepstakes. The grand prize is a week-long stay in a gorgeous Paris apartment (with panoramic views and balcony) along with many French inspired runner-up prizes. All proceeds from this unique fundraiser will help Veggies to Table grow and donate even more farm-fresh veggies and flowers while bringing YOU to Paris or, Paris to YOU!

Veggies to Table founder Erica Berman moved from Paris to Maine 10 years ago with her French husband and co-founder, Alain Ollier. To share a bit of France with you all, they have organized this incredible sweepstakes.

Grand Prize:

? A week stay for two in Berman’s Montmartre apartment w/a balcony and panoramic

views

? A chauffeur to and from the airport

? Champagne and flowers upon arrival

? Lunch for two at Le Bon Georges

? Lunch for two at Mokonuts Bakery and Café

? A gift certificate for Treize au Jardin

? A standard trip planning service by Paris, Perfected

Runner-up prizes:

? A weekend in Montreal with club access at the Le Centre Sheraton hotel

? A set of luxury French bed linens

? A language class at the Penobscot Bay Language School

? Handmade chocolates from French owned, Maine based, Chocolats Passion

? A set of French Utility Soap, dish towels and a wooden dish brush from sustainable shop du Jardin AND MANY MORE PRIZES

Hunger is on the rise — With higher costs all around, food insecurity is on the rise and more local families, children, and elderly are in peril. Help Veggies to Table feed the maximum amount of the 1 in 7 Maine families living with hunger (1 in 5 children). In its first three seasons Veggies to Table grew and donated 31,000+ pounds of farm-fresh produce and gifted over 2,100 flower bouquets (40,000+ stems) to spread joy. With YOUR help they can provide even more top-quality nutrient dense produce to those in need.

What you can do to help Veggies to Table feed more of the hungry in our community:

? enter the Sweepstakes

? donate to Veggies to Table

? visit us on the farm

? volunteer on the farm or behind the scenes on grants and fundraising

? connect with us

The Sweepstakes will run from Aug 7 – Sept 17 with winners selected online on September 18. YOU can make a difference. Help us feed our neighbors living in the crisis of hunger, and you just might win a week in a Paris apartment, a weekend in Montreal or one of the many other French inspired prizes!

To Enter: https://veggiestotable.rallyup.com/winaweekinparis or scan the QR code with your phone camera.

Pictured: Veggies to Table founder, Erica Berman.

Oasis of Music Begins New Season

LEWISTON, ME (August 23, 2022) — The Oasis of Music will begin its new season at Trinity Church in Lewiston Wednesday September 7, from 12:30 to around 1:00, with a clarinet trio performing classical music selections.   

The Oasis of Music is a weekly music series of performances of roughly thirty minutes, running from September to May. Admission is free, with donations accepted. The musical genres vary greatly, in largely, but not exclusively, acoustic formats. COVID restrictions of optional mask-wearing and social distancing are observed.  For more information, call 207-344-3106.

Admission is free, with donations accepted.  For more information call 344-3106. 

Upcoming performances include: 

September 7.  Clarinet Trio, classical 

September 14  Greg Boardman, fiddle 

September 21. Jessy Kendall, experimental all vocal loop layers 

September 28  Lansley and Howard, classical flute and piano 

October 5. Jim Gallant, singer-songwriter guitarist 

October 12. Seyr Duo, Middle Eastern Music 

October 19. David Pontbriand, sitar 

October 26. Owen Kennedy, fiddle

La Rencontre Luncheon To Feature Local Musicians 

LEWISTON, ME (August 25, 2022)–The La Rencontre luncheon at the Franco Center will feature local musicians Bob Mathieu, Fernande Caron Cyr, and Nel Meservier from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8. 

After socializing, lunch will be served followed by entertainment. Lunch will consist of pot roast, potatoes, a vegetable, roll/bread, and apple crisp for dessert. La Rencontre (the gathering) is not restricted to French-speakers or even those of Franco descent.  

Meservier, a lifelong resident of the Lewiston-Auburn area, comes from a musical family. Between his brother, nephews, and nieces, at one time various family members were in a total of seven bands playing everything from rock and roll to folk music to French music. Meservier, who plays keyboard, has been performing since the age of 15. He has been a volunteer at the Franco Center since it was established in 2000. 

Mathieu is a Lewiston native who has performed in local bands including playing bass with the original Royal Knights. He has also performed with The Fascinations and is a long-time member of the Holy Family choir. He has performed with the Lewiston-Auburn Community Little Theatre. He has entertained at previous La Rencontre luncheons and continues to perform at local nursing homes. 

Cyr has been singing all her life including the glee club while attending St. Dom’s High School, with Community Little Theatre, in the choir at St. Phillips Church in Auburn, and at funerals. She has performed at the Franco Center in the past with her nephew, pianist Paul Caron and will be performing at this La Rencontre event with Paul’s uncle, Nel Meservier. 

Elaine Roop, Franco Center board president, said, “We are very fortunate to have our French cultural programs such as La Rencontre supported by FACE Foundation, TV5 Monde, and the Quebec Delegation. French culture is a big part of Lewiston’s and Auburn’s cultural heritage.” Future La Rencontre events in the 2022-23 season at the Franco Center will be held on Dec. 8, 2022, March 9, 2023, and June 22, 2023. 

Doors open at 9:30 a.m. All are welcome to attend this event. Tickets are $15 per person and must be purchased by noon Tuesday, Sept. 6. For tickets call 207-689-2000, order online at francocenter.org/shows, or visit the box office in person at 46 Cedar St., Lewiston, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Parking is in the mill lot. Handicap access is via Lincoln St. Alley. 

 Bob Mathieu, Fernande Caron Cyr, and Nel Meservier will bring musical entertainment to Heritage Hall at the Franco Center during the La Rencontre luncheon which takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8. The trio have been performing together and separately for years in the Lewiston-Auburn area. The Franco Center is at 46 Cedar St., Lewiston. 

City Kids Provides Funding to Generational Noor of Lewiston

PORTLAND, ME (August 18, 2022) – City Kids, a youth education nonprofit created by City Realty Group Managing Partners Fred Starikov and Stephen Whalen, is providing $5,000 in startup funding to Generational Noor.  A new organization based in Lewiston, Maine, Generational Noor works to end the stigma around substance abuse, mental health, alcoholism, and drug abuse in immigrant households and helps people get help leading to rehab and recovery. City Kids makes this donation to support Generational Noor’s mission and to ensure the organization has resources to address substance abuse among the immigrant community in Maine.

City Realty Group Managing Partner and City Kids Co-Founder Stephen Whalen traveled to Portland, Maine to personally present Generational Noor Founder Arman Osman and volunteers with the startup funds. Whalen sat down with the brilliant youth behind Generational Noor to hear about their experiences and discuss their future plans for the program. Whalen, who grew up in Lewiston, Maine himself, understands the fact addiction has been an issue in Maine for many years and the immigrant community sometimes takes a backseat when it comes to resources to address substance abuse and related issues. The City Kids and Generational Noor Founders discussed ways this donation can help Generational Noor in the early stages of the program.

“One of our goals is to have the funds to hire someone from the community who can really help us take Generational Noor to the next level. There are a lot of passionate people who want to help and are currently looking for work,” said Osman.

Whalen told Osman he supports the idea and will remain committed to helping this new organization grow.  “That is certainly a win-win. Because not only will you be giving somebody a job, but a job in the movement. You are off to an incredible start and one of my goals is to help put Generational Noor on the map. Once known, Generational Noor will have all the support it needs,” said Whalen.

Generational Noor seeks to educate and change the way certain immigrant communities look at substance abuse. This includes preventing youth in the community from falling into drug addiction, helping others overcome it, and giving those who have been incarcerated for drug related crimes a chance to land on their feet. For more information about Generational Noor please visit www.generationalnoor.com.

Pictured are Generational Noor Volunteers receiving $5,000 from City Kids. (Left to Right) Mazin Ahmed of Westbrook, Maine; Generational Noor Executive Director & Founder Amran Osman of Lewiston, Maine; Amran’s sisters Safa (12) & Samiira (17) Noor, both also from Lewiston; Liiban Adaan of Portland, Maine; City Realty Group Managing Partner & City Kids Co-Founder Stephen Whalen of Brookline, Massachusetts (originally from Lewiston, Maine).

Museum L-A to Host Conversation on History of Farmers’ Almanac

LEWISTON, ME (August 17, 2022) — From farming and gardening lore, to the best times to stargaze and plant, to its uncanny weather forecasts, the Farmers’ Almanac has been informing and entertaining for over 200 years – from right here in Lewiston.   

At this next in the series of Made in Maine events at Museum L-A, publisher Peter Geiger and funnyman emcee Dennis Price will regale the crowd with the inside scoop on the history and evolution of this unique publication that keeps on spinning its brand of homegrown tips and Maine-based wisdom. This event will be held on Wednesday, September 7 at 5:30pm.    

Throughout the evening, attendees will have the chance to win gifts provided by an array of area gardening, farming, and agriculture-related businesses.

Come join us for a night celebrating a storied Maine publication and all the local farmers, gardeners, and businesses in Maine who are part of our farming and gardening tradition. The event is sponsored by Ann’s Flower Shop.

The evening is the second in the Made In Maine series offered by Museum L-A.  Made in Maine spotlights businesses making an impact locally, regionally, nationally and globally that continue the long tradition of exceptional craftsmanship and industry in our region. 

For more information about Museum L-A and its events and exhibits, visit www.museumla.org or call 207-333-3881. The museum is located at 35 Canal Street in Lewiston.

Bryan Bielanski Performs at Saint George River Café in Warren

 WARREN, ME (August 1, 2022) — Imagine Nirvana and the Beatles had a kid together who became an acoustic rock singer-songwriter: that’s Bryan Bielanski!

Although he is inspired by some of the rock greats like Tom Petty and REM, he has a distinct musical style and lyrics that make you think deep thoughts and feel like you’re really alive! This critically acclaimed globetrotting singer-songwriter has been touring the US and the world for the last 10 years. During that time, Bryan Bielanski has performed in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Austria, Belgium, California, Canada, China, Colorado, Connecticut, Costa Rica, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Italy, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Luxembourg, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mexico, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Netherlands, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Poland, Russia, South Carolina, South Dakota, Switzerland, Tennessee, Texas, Thailand, United Kingdom, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Bryan Bielanski is full of fun energy and catchy songs and he is ready to entertain you! He will be performing August 30th, 2022 at Saint George River Cafe in Warren, Maine.

See more information at https://bryanssuperhappyfuntime.bandcamp.com/ – singer

Music and Movement Featured at Wiscasset Art Walk

WISCASSET, ME (August 19, 2022) – Making music, learning to juggle, and watching hip-hop dancers are some of the sidewalk activities planned for Wiscasset Art Walk on August 25, 5-8pm. Galleries are offering new exhibits and visiting artists chat with visitors. Live music in the galleries and on the sidewalk makes this truly a multi-sensory evening!

A collection of hand-made percussion instruments – a raw log Amadinda and cajóns or box drums – will be set up on Wiscasset Village sidewalks with an invitation to visitors to tap out their own rhythms. The drums were constructed during the July WAW and now make their first public appearance on August 25. 

Liz Giles-Brown, principal of Learning on the Move in Boothbay Harbor, brings circus arts to the evening. Liz will be instructing visitors in the fun art of juggling. If the weather is calm, not even a breeze, she’ll use scarves. Otherwise, “anything you can toss and catch,” will work just fine; she’ll supply the bean bags. While juggling is fun, Liz’s instruction, especially in her work with children, has a greater purpose. She combines the science of learning and an understanding of how the brain creates new memory with learning to juggle. But in the end, she says, movement is the medium for having fun. 

Hip hop dancing, previously seen at WAW in August 2021, makes a return visit with Dancemaineia’s owner and instructor, Melanie Pagurko, and dancers Anna Stokes and Michaela LaCrosse to entertain WAW strollers. The dance company, based in Waldoboro, features “our own creative movement which pulls from everything out there. We create our own choreography,” Melanie explains. 

Although Melanie doesn’t refer to herself as having been a child prodigy, she did take her first dance class at three years old, crediting her mother’s wisdom in directing her energetic child into movement. Melanie started teaching break dancing at 13 when her brother turned down the job and then switched to jazz and added ballet. She’s passionate about her art and enjoys teaching all age groups. “I love teaching and getting people out of their day-to-day zone,” she says, and helping people, especially adults, have fun through dance.

 In the galleries, Wiscasset Bay Gallery is opening its new exhibition, Around the World in 22 Days, with a reception during WAW. The exhibit focuses on Impressionism from across the globe, including works from Egypt, Greece, and Russia, as well as France, Hungary, Italy, Holland, and Switzerland. Accompanying the art will be the sublime music of Jonathan Waldo playing classical guitar. Visitors are invited to enjoy light refreshments and a sip or two in the gallery’s lovely courtyard. 

Sylvan Gallery, featuring contemporary fine art, will be hosting award-winning plein air artists Neal Hughes and Crista Pisano. An exhibit of their work, Paintings Large or Small … We are Pleased to Have Them All!, is currently on display through September 4. Both artists are inspired by landscapes and Maine coastal views and are adept at talking about their creative inspirations and how they’re translated to the canvas. The soundtrack for the evening will be provided by Suki Flanagan playing harp, splendidly.  

More details about the evening’s offerings can be found on the touring map, which is available at participating shops identified by sparkling streamers at doorways.   

Wiscasset Art Walk 2022 is made possible by the generosity of Lead Sponsors Donna and Frank Barnako and Major Sponsors Ames True Value, Big Barn Coffee, BIRCH Home Furnishings & Gifts, Bradbury Art & Antiques, Carriage House Gardens, First National Bank, Fogg and Dalton Art Restoration, Industrial ME, J. Edward Knight Insurance, Newcastle Realty, Ozias, Peter Eaton at the Lilac Cottage, Red’s Eats, Rock Paper Scissors, and Sherri Dunbar/Tim Dunham Realty. Additional sponsor support comes from Cod Cove Inn. 

For more information about Wiscasset Art Walk, www.wiscassetartwalk.org or email to wiscassetartwalk@verizon.net. Wiscasset Art Walk is a program of Wiscasset Creative Alliance.

Below: Sylvan Gallery hosts award-winning plein air painters Neal Hughes and Crista Pisano during Wiscasset Art Walk on Thursday, August 25, 5-8pm. An exhibit of their work, Paintings Large or Small … We are Pleased to Have Them All!, is currently on view at the gallery. (Sylvan Gallery photo)

Auburn Business Associate Holds Annual Golf Scramble

AUBURN, ME (August 12, 2022) — Auburn Business Association held its annual golf scramble on Thursday August 4th at Martindale Country Cub. A great turnout was had even in the extreme heat. 

Emerson Chevrolet and Rooper’s Beverage and Redemption were the event sponsors. Cote Corporation was the gold sponsor. 

Special thanks to the event sponsors and gold sponsor and the entire group of golfers who enjoyed the day. 

This is the primary fundraiser of the Auburn Business Association which uses the funds collected to partner with the city of Auburn to provide holiday decorations, hot chocolate, and mittens at the annual holiday parade. Auburn Business Association also holds the annual Citizen of the Year every May.

To learn more about the Auburn Business Association please reach out to any board member.


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