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LHS expansion on time, on budget

From Lewiston Public Schools

LEWISTON – “On time, on budget!” That’s the status of the Lewiston High School expansion, according to LHS assistant principal Jay Dufour, who also is the Lewiston School Department liaison for the project.

The construction contractor, Ledgewood Construction, is currently installing electrical material in the portion of the existing building that is part of the overall construction.

“Much of the interior demolition to connect the new wing to the main part of LHS has been accomplished,” Dufour said. “Preparation, inside and outside, is well along for the additional elevator, and a seminar room in what formerly was administrative space is almost ready for drywalling and ceiling installation.”

Construction is on time and on budget for the expansion of the Lewiston High School building. The new addition will provide special education and regular education classrooms, and house the visual and performing arts production and rehearsal areas. (Photo courtesy of Lewiston Public Schools)

Creation of the new functional life skills program space is in progress, as are the redeveloped administrative offices, including the inclusion of the school resource officer’s base of operation.

The former adult education area has been totally dismantled, and that program will be relocated to the newly renovated section of the school, according to Dufour. “Three doorways in the guidance department lobby have been totally knocked out, and will become entryways to a staff workroom, the special education offices, and the expanded nurse’s suite,” he said.

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I AND YOU…

Full Stream ahead at The Public Theatre!

From The Public Theatre

LEWISTON – Last March, due to COVID, The Public Theatre had to cancel its production of I AND YOU on the day it was scheduled to open. Only the preview audiences had the pleasure of seeing the show. They laughed, they wept and cheered the production. The Theatre was heartbroken that no one else would get to see this very special play.

Emma Wisniewski as Caroline and London Carlisle as Anthony in the streaming production of the show I AND YOU from The Public Theatre in Lewiston. (Photo courtesy of The Public Theatre)

“When opening night was cancelled, we were all desperately in need of closure on this wonderful experience”, said Director Christopher Schario. “So, before the actors went home to New York, we invited a small audience to the theatre and recorded the final performance of I AND YOU. We’re very excited to announce, that after months of contract negotiations, we have finally gotten permission to share this video with our audience.”

I AND YOU can be watched at your convenience, once, any time between March 8 through March 21. “The interesting thing about streaming the show”, said Schario, “is the fact that anyone in the world can watch it and see the high quality of work that’s happening onstage at The Public Theatre. It’s also a great way for our audience to introduce their friends and family who may not live in town to the Theatre.”

“We’re even offering a date night incentive of ‘Dinner and a Show at home!’, says Schario.  “We are partnering with Fishbones Restaurant in Lewiston, who will be offering a 10% discount on take-out or dine-in during our streaming dates if you purchase your ticket by March 1st.”

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Setting Our Priorities: COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights

Guest Column

By Sen. Nate Libby

The start of 2021 has not been easy on any of us. We are halfway through February, and the COVID-19 pandemic remains at the forefront of our lives. As the Legislature reconvenes in a virtual format, we’re considering our first bill of the year, LD 1 “An Act to Establish a COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights.”

Sen. Nate Libby (D-Androscoggin), Maine District 21, the City of Lewiston. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Libby)

 The crux of the bill is this: If you’re impacted by COVID-19, you shouldn’t have to make tough decisions about seeking health care treatment because you’re worried about how to pay for it. My fellow legislators and I all share a responsibility to make sure Mainers have access to health care, in a pandemic or not. We also hold firm that it is our responsibility to ensure that Mainers do not have to worry whether or not they can afford that care. Access to care as well as affordability to that care are equally vital. LD 1 aims to build on the progress we made last legislative session and deal with new issues that have arisen during this difficult time.

 This bill would require state-regulated health care plans to cover and waive co-pays for COVID-19 screenings, testing and vaccinations, as well as expand telehealth options in the state of Maine. In other words, plans for public employees, individuals and small groups who purchase plans through the marketplace, and those covered by MaineCare are protected by provisions in LD 1.

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Unique Sunday River Whitecap

Seniors Not Acting Their Age

By Ron Chase

Sunday River Whitecap is one of the most unique mountain hikes in Maine.  Rugged terrain, phenomenal views, and a barren alpine summit provide a remarkable winter mountaineering experience. 

Located on the northeastern end of the Mahoosuc Range in far western Maine, climbing the 3,337 foot peak entails about 2,100 feet of elevation gain while negotiating a variety of trail conditions.  The Grafton Notch Loop Trail is the normal route to the summit.  From Route 26 in North Newry, the fourteen-mile out and back trek is an arduous winter expedition.  For about three decades, Chowderheads with the Penobscot Paddle and Chowder Society (PPCS) have been scaling Sunday River Whitecap via an esoteric six mile roundtrip alternative route. 

Hikers ascend the north shoulder of Sunday River Whitecap in a dense conifer growth. (Ron Chase photo)

Scheduled to lead a mid-January PPCS winter mountain hike, Sunday River Whitecap was my choice.  Unaware of snow depth in the Mahoosucs, a primary concern was to snowshoe or not to snowshoe. Full disclosure, for me snowshoeing is a means to an end.  If I can get to the top of a mountain without using them, that’s my preference.  During my last Sunday River Whitecap outing, a companion and I toted snowshoes for the entire trip never needing them.  At my age, I’m pacing my arthritic joints; attempting to postpone their inevitable demise.  Senselessly carrying added weight is a non-starter. 

Several club members responded to my inquiry regarding snow levels in the Mahoosucs.  Their reports indicated about ten inches of snow accumulation could be anticipated and snowshoes were probably unnecessary.  Our plan was to take them to the trailhead before making a final decision. 

Six of us met in a clearing at the junction of Routes 2 and 26 in Newry on a sunny, breezy winter day with temperatures in the low twenties.  Since parking was expected to be limited at the esoteric trailhead, we masked and teamed up in pairs for the nine mile drive north on Route 26 to an old dirt road on the left between Screw Auger Falls and Grafton Notch. A snowplow had cleared space sufficient for a few vehicles.

Inspection at the trailhead indicated the ten-inch snow prediction was accurate.  As the snow had a very light consistency, our decision was settled, no snowshoes.  Anticipating gusty winds and low temperatures above tree line, we packed for extreme winter conditions.  Everyone carried ice cleats, some wearing them from the outset.

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70 riders for 3rd annual Blizzardcross

MINOT – About 70 riders from throughout New England competed in the third annual ArtWorx Blizzardcross on Feb. 7 at Hemond’s MX & Offroad Park on Woodman Hill Road in Minot.

Racing began mid-morning and continued through snow that began falling around noontime.

The venue bills itself as New England’s New England’s Premiere Motocross & Offroad Riding Facility, with two full-size motocross tracks, 10 miles of offroad trails, 600 acres of land, more than 100 acres of parking, and over 400 feet of elevation change.

Brett Guyer, # 11, of Londonderry, NH, takes the lead against William Belmore, #50, Ron Phinney, #83, of Raymond, and Eric Howe, #371, of Hollis, at the start of Race 5 in the 2021 edition of  the ArtWorx Blizzardcross at Hemond’s MX & Offroad Park in Minot on Feb. 7. (Tsukroff photo)

The 10 races included riders on off-road motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles.

This year’s Blizzardcross was part track and part trail over a dozer-groomed snow course.

Classes for the 2021 edition included riders on 85cc and up motocross bikes, plus utility terrain vehicle and ATV classes. Each class had a two-moto format.

The kid’s track ran youth classes simultaneously on a small course next to the main course, where the big classes were racing.

Awards were given for first through fifth place in all classes for both youths and adults.

Luke Baker, four years old, from Auburn, leads Hudson Paquette, five years old, of Bridgton, in the PW 120cc Sled class on the kid’s track at Hemond’s MX & Offroad Park in Minot in Race 8 of the 2021 ArtWorx Blizzardcross on Feb. 7. (Tsukroff p­hotos)

Luke Baker, a four-year-old preschooler from Auburn, finished among the top ten in the kid’s event. His first competition was in the event last year. Baker’s father, Tyler, competed in winter events in past years on a snow bike – a dirt bike modified with a rear track and a front ski. Both parents have ridden snowmobiles since they were children.

While most of the racers were from Maine, several classes had competitors from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

Tax preparation goes virtual

From City of Lewiston

LEWISTON – The Lewiston Auburn Creating Assets, Savings and Hope (CA$H) Coalition, an annual tax season go-to within the L-A area, has gone “virtual.”

IRS tax law certified volunteers have prepared taxes, free of charge, for low-to-moderate income individuals and families since 2004 when the City of Lewiston established the multi-partner coalition.

This tax season, in order to follow CDC public health precau­tions and avoid any shut-down mid-season due to COVID19, members in Maine’s ten coalitions have collaborated to put a virtu­al model in place.

Tony Tenneson, a re­tired professor with vast tax return experience, will facilitate the local effort as Site Coordinator.

“I understand that some residents will be con­cerned about having their tax returns prepared vir­tually. The VITA program has a strict protocol for the virtual tax preparation process,” Tenneson said. “Every VITA volunteer has been trained and certified for the virtual tax return process. The IRS has strict guidelines for ensuring the security and confidentiality of tax filer identification and tax information during the virtual process.

Tenneson said that IRS tax law-certified vol­unteers will contact the individual at various times during the process, from the intake of the tax infor­mation through the review of the completed return with the resident. The pro­cess is every bit as secure as face to face. “I am excit­ed, as this will not limit the number of residents who can be served this season. In the past, the number of taxpayers served was lim­ited to the number of ap­pointments that could be scheduled for face-to-face tax preparation at the Ar­mory.”

Residents in the Lew­iston, Auburn, and sur­rounding areas can choose from two options to have their taxes prepared. A 100% virtual experience, with personal uploading of tax documents and photo ID, will be done through “Get Your Refund” at http://bitly.ws/bJIe. Or residents can use “Scan & Go” at http://bitly.ws/bJIg to request scanning of their documents prior to virtual tax prep.

LA’s Scan & Go Co­ordinator is Chris Adler, a long-time member of LA CA$H.

Services will be of­fered through mid-April.

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Community groups overwhelmed by generosity of students

From Portland Diocese

PORTLAND – Part of the mission of Maine Catholic schools is to accentuate the importance of service with the hope of building a lifelong commitment and appreciation in each student to give back to those in need.

Two weeks ago, Last week, that lesson was on full display at schools across Maine during Maine Catholic Schools Week as students designed and completed many service projects to help local organizations

Saint Dominic Academy, Lewiston/Auburn 

At the St. Dom’s campus in Auburn (Grades 6-12), students collected toiletries for those staying at homeless shelters; constructed bookshelves for the Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston, which provides food and shelter to those in need; built birdfeeders for area nursing homes; designed coffee mugs and face mask extenders for caregivers at St. Mary’s Urgent Care in Auburn; and made fleece blankets for the animals at the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. At the Lewiston campus, students collected items for patients at Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice as well as family members who might be staying with loved ones.

“Community service at St. Dom’s gives us an opportunity to get out and put others first,” said senior Lauren Theriault. “It is important to take time away from academics and sports and clubs and do something for other people.”

St. Brigid School, Portland

Students at St. Brigid collected and assembled items to create over 110 cleaning and toiletry kits for St. Elizabeth’s Essential Pantry on Park Street in Portland. The kits went directly out to community members in need over the weekend. An additional 112 art kits created by the students were given to Maine Needs for distribution to families as well. 

“Maine Needs was overwhelmed by the total of 232 cleaning/toiletry and art kits created by the St. Brigid School community,” said Ellen Couture, director of admissions and marketing at St. Brigid. “It is wonderful to know that the kits were immediately distributed to people who needed them. This was a fabulous service project for Catholic Schools Week.”

St. James School, Biddeford

Students at St. James brought in soup and monetary donations for the Biddeford Food Pantry. 

“They raised over $250 and many donations of soup and non-perishable food,” said Principal Nancy Naimey. “I didn’t count it but it was a trunkful!”

St. John’s Catholic School, Brunswick

Students, teachers, and staff participated in a food collection contest between classrooms with all proceeds benefitting the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program. The school traditionally donates well over 2,000 pounds of food to the program each year, helping hundreds of local families in the process. Last week alone, the school donated nearly 800 pounds of food.  

St. Thomas School, Sanford

St. Thomas School donated boxes and boxes of food for the St. Thérèse Food Closet and participated in a “stuff the bus” event to provide school supplies for York County children in need. In addition, the students collected monetary donations in water jugs to raise money for Waban, which serves adults and children with disabilities.

“Our school tries to raise as much money as possible,” said Ellery, a seventh grader. “We are honored to be helping such a kind and respectable organization.”

Holy Cross School, South Portland

Holy Cross School in South Portland held a penny challenge that raised over $1,500 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children diagnosed with a critical illness. In the United States and its territories, on average, a wish is granted every 34 minutes.

Cheverus High School, Portland

Cheverus High School in Portland held a personal care items drive to support Sacred Heart/St. Dominic Food Pantry in Portland.

“The Key Club and student government coordinated and sorted the donations, creating over 100 bags of essential toiletries for men, women, and families,” said Dr. John Moran, principal of Cheverus. “They did an amazing job.”

Students also wrote letters of gratitude to many individuals and groups, including first responders, postal workers, local businesses and organizations, active military, veterans, teachers, staff, clergy, women religious, parents/guardians, grandparents, volunteers, seminarians, and made Valentine’s cards for residents at local nursing homes and veterans’ homes.

“Through the enthusiasm and hope they create in these difficult times, our Catholic schools continue to be warm and caring places where excellence in academics is encouraged, service is valued, and the importance of loving God and neighbor is celebrated,” said Bishop Robert Deeley. “May our schools continue to help our children appreciate God’s love for them and bring hope to our world.”

Second vaccine clinic at Schooner Estates

Out and About

By Rachel Morin

Schooner Estates in Auburn had their second Pfizer COVID 19 vaccine clinic last Thursday.

Everything went well at their January clinic three weeks earlier, and the same was said for this clinic. Residents received these second vaccine shots in either the Village Green room or the Camden Dining Room at Schooner.

Residents reported the same experience as before – painless, swift and not much time waiting, seated comfortably in the large dining room.

The mandatory wait time after the injection was maintained as volunteers brought ice water with lemon for tenants to enjoy while waiting.

The experience was identical at the clinic downstairs in the Village Green as communication was kept current between the two locations.

There were no untoward reactions. Random checking was done the following day with everyone reporting they felt fine.

The Schooner Estates vaccine team for the Pfizer COVID 19 vaccine clinics on Jan. 21 and Feb. 11. Team members included, standing – John Rice, Director of Operations at Schooner and the team leader for the vaccine clinics; Mark Prevost, Director Resident Services; Randy Parenteau, Director of Maintenance; seated – Dianne Day, Financial/Director Human Resources; and Cindy Swift, Director Nursing and Home Health. (Rachel Morin photo)

The Bangor Drug Pharmacy team returned and were greeted warmly by the tenants who remembered the favorable experience at the first clinic. Team members were Pharmacists John Hebert and Meagan Pelletier. Cindy Roy was their assistant.

John Rice, Director of Operations at Schooner Estates, led the Schooner vaccine clinic team with Mark Prevost, Director Resident Services; Randy Parenteau, Director of Maintenance; Diane Day, Financial/Director Human Resources; and Cindy Swift, MS, RN,CPHQ Director of Nursing and Home Health for both January and February Clinics.

“We had 100% of the tenants vaccinated as well as 80 employees and essential workers,” Rice said. “Vaccinating nearly 200 people in four hours is no easy task. Our team stepped up to the plate to make it happen smoothly and with a smile. “

Rice said the Bangor Drug Pharmacy team was very complimentary of the Schooner clinic’s organization and execution. “We are very grateful for their efforts as well and they were really good to work with,” he said.

Bob Hurd and wife Nancy Hurd were pleased with how smoothly everything went at both clinics. (Rachel Morin photo)

The tenants and staff at Schooner Estates are indeed very appreciative of John Rice’s efforts to have Bangor Drug Pharmacy Team come to Schooner Estates.

Schooner Estates is a retirement community on Stetson Road in Auburn, offering independent and assisted living for seniors in the Lewiston-Auburn area. Residential care is also available.

St. Dom’s students extend mercy to hospice patients in Lewiston

From Portland Diocese

LEWISTON – After learning about hospice care from Dr. Shauna McElrath, a specialist in palliative care for Central Maine Healthcare, fifth graders at Saint Dominic Academy lent a helping hand to the mission of caring for people experiencing advanced, life-limiting illnesses.

“Last year, we were able to have Dr. McElrath come in and speak to the students about what she does as a hospice doctor and exactly what hospice does for its patients,” said Theresa Dufour, a fifth-grade teacher at St. Dom’s.

Fifth grade students from Saint Dominic Academy with items they collected to donate to hospice patients and patients’ families at the Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice in Auburn. (Photo courtesy of Portland Diocese)

It was a message that sank in and inspired the students to take up a collection for the Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice, also in Lewiston.

“We have been collecting for hospice during Catholic Schools Week,” said Jen Poliquin, another fifth-grade teacher. “We collect items such as lotion, toothpaste, shaving cream, puzzles, games, and other items.”

Discover Catholic Schools week take place in November, while Celebrate Catholic Schools Week took place from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6.

The large collection of items won’t just offer comfort to patients. “We also collect items for the family members of the patients that may be staying with their loved ones during their final days,” said Dufour.

Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice is non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing quality of life by providing innovative and compassionate medical care. Founded in 1966, it has grown into Maine’s largest independent healthcare organization providing health, hospice, and care management services. Nobody is turned away due to an inability to pay. To learn about ways that you can join the fifth graders in supporting the organization, visit http://bitly.ws/bCnK

During the pandemic and despite the challenges of adjusting to modified in-person instruction and distance learning, the number of inspiring service projects at St. Dom’s and all Maine Catholic Schools has only grown.

“Saint Dominic Academy is more than just a school. It is a community and a family rooted in strong traditions like service to those in need around us,” said Alanna Stevenson, principal of the Lewiston campus. “I am blown away by the ever-present support offered by our faculty, staff, school families, and students. We continue to find strength in the Lord and in one another.”

Discover Catholic Schools Week will take place next school year on Nov. 14-Nov. 30, followed by Celebrate Catholic Schools Week from Jan. 30-Feb. 5, 2022.

Saint Dominic Academy is a Catholic, co-educational college preparatory day school under the patronage of the Diocese of Portland for students in grades Pre-K through 12. The Academy has campuses in Lewiston and Auburn.

Libby steps back from Senate leadership

From Maine Legislature

AUGUSTA – Senate Majority Leader Nate Libby (D-Lewiston) recently stepped down from his Senate Democratic Leadership position for the 130th Maine Legislature.

Sen. Libby will continue to serve the people of Lewiston in the Maine Senate, and hold government programs accountable as Senate Chair of the Government Oversight Committee.

Sen. Nate Libby (D-Androscoggin), Maine District 21, the City of Lewiston. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Libby)

The news comes after Sen. Libby was hired in December to serve as President of Community Concepts Finance Corporation, where he will run the nonprofit’s business and residential lending, homebuyer education and financial counseling programs, and economic development programs. 

In response to the announcement, Sen. Libby said, “Serving in legislative leadership has been the greatest honor of my professional life. The people who make up the Senate Democratic Caucus, both lawmakers and staff, are extraordinary. Each person brings different experiences and perspectives to the table, and our state is better for it. The decision to step back down from leadership has not been an easy one. Last November, I stood before the Senate Democratic Caucus and said that in the coming two-year term I would give everything I had as Majority Leader in service of our caucus, our values and our priorities. And I meant it. But life happens when you’re making other plans.” 

“Since November, circumstances have changed making it harder for me to make good on my commitment to the Senate Democratic Caucus. Recently, I accepted a full-time position as president of Community Concepts Finance Corporation. At the same time, my growing young family has made sacrifices to allow me to meet the demands of serving in legislative leadership. They need and deserve more of my time, and while this decision is extremely difficult for me to make, it’s for that reason I know I’ve made the right one.”

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve as Senate Majority Leader and for the support of both President Jackson and Assistant Majority Leader Vitelli. I’ll continue to proudly serve all of the people of Lewiston in the Senate, being the same forceful advocate for policies and state budget issues that impact our city, and chairing the Government Oversight Committee.”

The Senate Democratic Caucus elected a new majority leader at a caucus on Monday.

Sen. Nate Libby (D-Androscoggin) represents Maine Senate District 21, which comprises the City of Lewiston.


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