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This week’s edition!

All gave some, some gave all

A Memorial Day tribute

Weekly Republican Radio Address

By Rep. Dillingham

In facing our nation’s greatest threats, heroic men and women have answered the call to service. This weekend, Mainers will take part in remembering the service and sacrifice of our servicemen and women who unfortunately did not make it home. 

Serving one’s country is among the most valiant of pursuits, and we are grateful for those who fell in the name of freedom and independence.

This is Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham of Oxford. During this week’s Republican Radio Address, please join me in paying tribute to our nation’s fallen heroes. 

In the words of President Abraham Lincoln, we pay our respects to those Americans who “gave the last full measure of devotion to their country.” We are indebted to their sacrifice for it was their faith in our nation’s founding vision of liberty that we are free.

It was their immeasurable sense of patriotism and love of country, that penetrated the darkness of tyranny and oppression, which gave way for our nation’s beacon of hope to shine in every corner of the world. 

We remember our fallen for their heroism on the beaches of Normandy, in the mountains of Afghanistan, throughout the jungles of Vietnam, and in far off lands in between. Their memory live on in our communities and in our grateful hearts. 

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Phil House returns to Schooner

Out and About

By Rachel Morin

AUBURN – Phil House was back at Schooner Estates Senior Living Community in Auburn for a Live Outdoor Concert in The Courtyard at the end of May.

Mark Prevost, Director of Resident Services, welcomed Phil and reminded the audience that the last time Phil performed at Schooner Estates was 14 months ago, before the pandemic hit and the facility was locked down.

 “We are all thrilled and pleased to have Phil back with us on this perfect day, a sunny day with a gentle breeze, perfect for our first outdoor concert in The Courtyard,” Mark said.

Mark told Phil, “You have a great and appreciative audience here, as all your longtime fans and friends are here for you!” A huge applause echoed Mark’s statements and Phil launched into his wonderful repertoire of old time melodies.

Joanne Kramlich, Castine Activities Director; Phil House, Pianist Extraordinaire; and Mark Prevost, Director Resident Services, have been friends for many years. (Rachel Morin photo)

Phil is Maine’s foremost pianist-interpreter of classic songs, bringing life to jazz standards, folk songs, ragtime masterpieces and popular songs. His flawless strident piano style, along with his flair and emotional connection to the music, leaves audiences breathless and with every toe tapping.

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A summer of fun in Auburn

Movies, Acoustic Music & Band Concerts

From City of Auburn

AUBURN – The team at the Auburn Recreation Department is delighted to present music, movies, and lots of summer fun for 2021!

“There really is something for everyone,” said Recreation Director Sabrina Best. “Our team has done a great job planning and organizing programs and events for this summer that capture our traditional offerings while adding some fun new ones. Our approach was all about balance and options.”

The city warmly invites residents to this year’s Summer Movie Series, which will kick off on Friday, June 11. The series, which will run through October, will feature seven popular movies. Each will take place at a different location throughout the city, and two will be drive-in style.

Movies will begin near dusk – as soon as it is dark enough outside. They will be shown on the city’s huge new 17’ x 30’ inflatable movie screen. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets and snacks to enjoy.

• Friday, June 11: “Grease” will be shown in Anniversary Park at 8:45 p.m.

• Friday, July 16: “Angels in the Outfield” at Pettengill Softball Field at 8:45 p.m.

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Maine Literary Awards for 2021

From Maine Writers
 

PORTLAND – During an awards ceremony last Thursday, hosted on Zoom with an audience of hundreds, the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance (MWPA) announced the winners of the 2021 Maine Literary Awards.

Lewiston High School received an Honorable Mention award in the Secondary School Literary Magazine category for its magazine titled Collage.

The Maine Literary Awards is an annual competition sponsored and coordinated by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Nominations were open to all Maine residents, including seasonal residents. The statewide competition is for published books, as well as drama, short works, and student writing. Each year, the awards are judged by anonymous panels that rotate and include more than 40 accomplished writers, editors, booksellers, librarians, and literary professionals.

Nearly 300 writers sent in their work for consideration from all corners of Maine.

Awards

Book Award for Crime Fiction – Bruce Robert Coffin, Within Plain Sight.

Book Award for Fiction – Jim Nichols, Blue Summer.

Book Award for Nonfiction – Kerri Arsenault, Mill Town.

Book Award for Memoir – Phuc Tran, Sigh, Gone.

Book Award for Poetry – Éireann Lorsung, The Century.

John N. Cole Award for Maine Nonfiction (co-winners) – Michael K. Komanecky, Jane Bianco, and Angela Waldron, Maine and American Art: The Farnsworth Art Museum; and Peter Taylor (editor) and Kara Douglas, From the Mountains to the Sea: The Historic Restoration of the Penobscot River.

Book Award for Young People’s Literature – Betty Culley, Three Things I Know Are True.

Book Award for Children’s – Anica Mrose Rissi, Love, Sophia on the Moon.

Book Award for Speculative Fiction –Emma J. Gibbon, Dark Blood Comes from the Feet.

Book Award for Excellence in Publishing – Joshua Klein, Another Work is Possible, Mortise & Tenon.

Book Award for Anthology – Claire Millikin and Agnes Bushell, Enough! Poems of Resistance.

Drama Award – Travis Baker, “Hockey Mom”.

Short Works Competition in Fiction –Morgan Talty, “The Blessing Tobacco”.

Short Works Competition in Nonfiction (co-winners) – Parker Blaney, “Detox”; and Sarah Twombly, “What We Want is Simple”.

Short Works Competition in Poetry – Suzanne Langlois, “What Lasts”.

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U.S. DOJ settles with Lewiston schools

Agreement addresses issue with students with disabilities

From US DOJ

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement agreement last week with the Lewiston Public Schools to end the district’s systemic and discriminatory practice of excluding students from full-day school because of behavior related to their disabilities.

The settlement also will require the district to provide equal educational opportunities to its English learner students. The department conducted its investigation under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA) after receiving a complaint from Disability Rights Maine.

The department’s investigation found that the district routinely shortened the school day for students with disabilities without considering their individual needs or exploring supports to keep them in school for the full day. The district’s lack of training for staff on how to properly respond to students’ disability-related behavior contributed to the over-reliance on “abbreviated” school days. The district compounded the harm to students by often failing to provide them with instruction or behavior support during the time that they were out of school.

The department’s investigation also revealed that the district failed to provide appropriate services to its English learner students, many of whom remained in the district’s English learner program for years without ever becoming fluent in English. As a result, many English learners, including immigrants and refugees from Somalia, Angola and other African countries, faced significant academic setbacks that can have lasting consequences.  

“Students with disabilities and students who are learning English need additional support and services in school – not additional barriers to learning,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Giving students with disabilities half the education they are entitled to is unacceptable. Failing to properly serve children who are learning English limits their opportunities for success in their current school and beyond. The department is committed to enforcing the law to make sure schools meet the needs and respect the rights of all their students.”

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Lewiston HS addition on its way to completion

From LHS

LEWISTON – The new addition to Lewiston High School is well on the way to completion, undeterred by the pandemic or the recent spike in the cost of building materials.

Lavallee/Brensinger architect Jay Doherty said, “The project remains on schedule and on budget,” a testament to the excellent estimating of the accounting staff; astute procuring of particular construction components at the right time; diligence of the clerk of the works Tim Brochu; and professional ability of the Ledgewood Construction management and crew. 

The addition to Lewiston High School is well its way to an expected opening for the beginning of school in August. (Photo courtesy of Lewiston High School)

The 42,200 square foot project will feature a two-story expansion, housing 33,700 square feet of space for special education, adult education, and fine arts instruction – including a visual arts gallery, and secure main entrance and lobby. There will be an an 8,500 square foot renovation of the administrative and guidance areas, and an additional elevator, according to project architect Eric Leblanc.

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Catholic churches lift pandemic restrictions

From Portland Diocese

PORTLAND – The Diocese of Portland announced major updates to the pandemic protocols currently in place at all 141 Catholic churches in Maine.

As of Monday, masks were no longer required for any person at any time, inside or outside the churches.

Capacity limits, advance registration, and the gathering of contact tracing information for those attending Masses are eliminated.

Pew seating arrangements to establish six or more feet of distance between each person/family are eliminated. Those attending Masses are welcome to sit where they are comfortable. All pews will be available for seating.

The distribution of Holy Communion to the homebound is restored.

Indoor choir practices can be held without distancing.

For those not yet comfortable with a return to Mass, many churches will provide spaces in other areas, like parish halls, for additional, spread out seating during Masses. The extensive livestreaming schedule at Maine parishes will also remain in place. Moving forward, adjustments to the schedule will be made in the “Parishes and Mass Times” section of www.portlanddiocese.org. The obligation to attend Mass will continue to be dispensed for the foreseeable future.

“The strict adherence to state and diocesan guidelines has led to the successful operation of our churches since last June. I am so grateful for the many staff, volunteers, and parishioners who sacrificed and followed the protocols to ensure that Maine Catholics were able to participate in Mass and receive the Eucharist over the last year,” said Bishop Robert Deeley. “The Catholic Church always works to guide those it encounters to live in harmony and peace. We hope that by continuing to offer a variety of ways to participate in Mass and through updating these protocols, all will feel welcomed to grow in their faith together in Christ.”

An Update on the Work I’m Doing

Guest Column

By Sen. Libby

This past year in the Legislature has been a whirlwind. Like so many other people, we have had to find ways to complete our work while also doing our best to keep COVID-19 at bay. Despite the extra challenges, my colleagues and I have been working hard to pass legislation that benefits all Mainers during this trying time. I would like to use this space as an opportunity to share some of the key pieces of legislation that I introduced this year, why I believe these laws are necessary and the effect they will have once signed into law.

 The first bill I would like to share is LD 1318, “An Act To Increase High School Graduation Rates for Students Experiencing Education Disruption.” The original idea for this bill was brought to me by the folks at New Beginnings youth shelter who see the barriers and educational disruptions that homeless youth and youth in foster care experience every day. In 2018, the overall high school graduation rate in Maine was 86.8 percent, but for youth experiencing homelessness it was 57.7 percent, and for youth in foster care it was only 56 percent. This bill would amend existing law to give young students who have experienced education disruption the tools they need to build a portfolio for high school graduation. Students who experience frequent disruptions to their schooling include those who are changing schools, living in foster care, experiencing homelessness, children of migrant workers and more.

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

 Another important bill of mine is LD 201, “An Act To Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Promote Weatherization in the Buildings Sector by Extending the Sunset Date for the Historic Property Rehabilitation Tax Credit.” This bill extends the Maine Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (MHRTC) from 2025 to 2040. This tax credit helps business and property developers rehabilitate and reuse income-producing historic buildings in Maine. The credit encourages investment in downtown areas to spur revitalization and the creation of affordable housing. To date, the program has been widely used in Lewiston-Auburn and has generated $3 million more in state and local tax revenues than it has cost in tax credits. On climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, the MHRTC helps incentivize development of housing located within walking distance of downtown stores and services, which reduces the dependence on motorized transportation.

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Virtual Art Walk L/A livestreams on Friday

From LA Arts

LEWISTON – The next “virtual” Art Walk L/A takes place Friday on www.laarts.org/artwalk/, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, presented by LA Arts.

This month, LA Arts is hosting livestream from the Agora in Lewiston, featuring the music of Black Cat Road, Emily & the Zealous, the GoOdS, and the Smith Collaboration!

May Art Experiences

Livestream from the Agora! Music starts at 7 pm on Friday on Facebook.

The GoOdS will be livestreamed on Friday from the Agora on Friday, as part of the virtual Art Walk L/A for this month. (Photo courtesy of LA Arts)

Local Writers Read welcomes 2020 Maine Literary Award Finalist and Portland’s Inaugural Poet Laureate Martin Steingesser.

Solo performance by pianist Bridget Convey

Art in the Windows

LA Arts and community partners are pleased to present “Art in the Windows” at a growing list of Lisbon Street, Lewiston locations:

– LA Arts Gallery – 221 Lisbon St. “Echoes and Loops, New Paintings by Kate Cargile”

– Lewiston Public Library – 200 Lisbon St. Artist books by Anna Low of Purplebean Bindery

– Rinck Advertising – 113 Lisbon St. Art glass by Jim Nutting of Maine Art Glass Studio

Look for more local artists’ work at Kimball Street Studios, 191 Lisbon St., Lewiston, by Lisbon-based artist Libby Sipe; Craft Brew Underground, 34 Court St., Auburn, by Central Maine artist Mary Bottom; and Gritty’s, 68 Main St., Auburn, by Melanie Therrien of Wicked Illustrations

Online Gallery

LA Arts and the Art Walk LA Committee are also hosting the 2021 Art Walk Artists online gallery. Artists and artisans included on this page each have works for sale; please support them with your purchases!

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Winners chosen for Top Gun Showcase

By Nathan Tsukroff

LEWISTON – Two winners were chosen to move on to the statewide Top Gun Showcase during the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce meeting last week.

 In a rare in-person breakfast meeting during a year under COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the chamber hosted the 5th Annual Top Gun LA Regional Pitch-Off at the Ramada Lewiston Hotel and Conference Center on Pleasant Street.

The hybrid event saw entrepreneurs making their presentations virtually on a large screen set up at the front of the conference room.

Mohamed Awil, Azenaide Pedro, and Abel Dias of Community Staffing Partners in Lewiston were chosen along with Jennifer Banis of Stay FnB to move on to the Showcase on May 26.

 The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs in Portland coordinates the Top Gun program in Maine to help entrepreneurs that have a desire to grow their business by providing tools, resources, and mentorship that are intended to help them achieve long-term success. Top Gun is a 15-week  program that combines hands-on mentoring with high-impact weekly gatherings, according to the MCE website. The weekly Top Gun sessions were virtual for the second straight year, due to the pandemic.

Mohammed Awil of Community Staffing Partners in Lewiston answers a question from judge Lori Allen after an online pitch for his company at the Top Gun LA 5th Annual Pitch-off at last week’s meeting of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. The Top Gun program is intended to guide entrepreneurs in creating successful business. Awil was named one of two winners in the event, moving on to the statwide showcase on May 26. (Tsukroff photo)

This year, the sessions were statewide, bringing the LA cohort together with the other groups in Maine.

The state Showcase winner receives a cash prize of $25,000, sponsored by Maine Technology Institute.

Local company Literacy Tech was the 2020 winner, taking home the cash prize that was sponsored by Maine Technology Institute. Michelle DeBlois and Kathryn Lariviere, both full-time middle school teachers, tri-founded LiteracyTech, Inc. with Peter Janett, a web application developer in December 2019. The company provides a web-based application called ReMo that provides readers with insight and access to books.

There were seven companies involved in this year’s program in Lewiston-Auburn. The other Top Gun entrepreneurs included Maria D’Auria of Second Gen Jerky; Jamey Cotnoir of A Mindful Eye, LLC; Tara Kieger of Sweet Cakes Bake Shop; Joan Drappeau of Slicpix; and Norman Patry of Summer Feet Cycling.

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