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This week’s edition!

Resources to get through winter

Guest Column

By Sen. Ned Claxton

Although we’re well into the month of February and many of us are dreaming of warmer days, I know that we still have a couple months of cold weather ahead of us.

That’s why I wanted to make sure folks are aware of some of the resources that are available in the community. This year, with the isolation many are facing, combined with the pandemic’s devastating economic impacts, it’s especially important that everyone can access help if they need it. Thankfully for us, there are some great organizations here in Maine that are ready to assist.

Sen. Ned Claxton (D-Androscoggin), Maine District 20, Auburn, Mechanic Falls, Minot, New Gloucester, and Poland (Photo courtesy of Sen. Claxton)

The most important part to making sure folks are safe during the winter is that they can heat their home. Because of the pandemic, a lot of people are being forced to stretch every dollar even further than usual. No matter what your situation is, if you need help paying to heat your home, please do not wait to ask for assistance. There is a program specifically designed for this purpose. It’s called the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), and it is federally funded but run through local agencies right here in Maine. Our local agency in Androscoggin County is Community Concepts, and they can be reached at 1-800-866-5588. In addition to the HEAP program, Community Concepts also offers the Central Heating Improvement Program (CHIP), which can provide grants to clean, repair or replace central heating systems for qualifying households.

If you have been trying to get service from a fuel provider but haven’t received a response, you can call the consumer mediation line in the Maine Attorney General’s office. This free helpline helps Mainers to settle disputes between consumers and businesses. You can reach them by phone at 626-8849 or send them an email at

Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) also offers useful tips on staying prepared for winter weather and being conscious of potential hazards at home. Topics include generator use, alternative heating sources and carbon monoxide safety. You can read their tips at or call them at 800-452-8735.

For any other resource you might want to learn about, you can always reach out to 211 Maine. This is a service run by the United Way in partnership with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. It connects folks who have questions with the answers they need. No matter what issue or question you might have, 211 can direct you to the proper resource or give you answers right on the spot. You can visit their website at, call them by dialing 2-1-1, or send them an email at

This is not an all-inclusive list of the resources available to us, but I hope you have found it helpful as we work our way through the rest of the winter. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to me if I can help you or your family. You can send me an email at or call my office at 287-1515. Please be well and stay safe.

Sen. Ned Claxton (D-Androscoggin) represents Maine Senate District 20, which includes Auburn, Mechanic Falls, Minot, New Gloucester, and Poland.

Nursing Endowment Scholarship created

From Androscoggin

LEWISTON – Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice (Androscoggin) recently announced the creation of the Julie Shackley Memorial Scholarship Endowment for Nursing Education, for Androscoggin employees who wish to pursue or advance their professional education in nursing.

Two applicants will be awarded each year. Scholarship amounts will be $2,000 each, distributed $1,000 per semester.

The nursing scholarship is named in memory of Julie Shackley, RN, MSN, who served as the President and CEO at Androscoggin from 2005 to 2016. She died last year after a long illness.

An educational scholarship for Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice employees was recently created in memory of former Androscoggin President and CEO Julie Shackley, seen here in a photograph from several years ago, who died last year after a long illness. (Photo courtesy of Androscoggin)

A clinician at heart, Shackley spent many years caring for patients, practicing primarily in home health care and hospice, and was a catalyst for the first Hospice House in Maine. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing in 1980, and earned a Master’s of Science in Nursing in 1997, both at the University of Southern Maine.

She was an advocate for quality and professional development and worked for several years at Androscoggin as the supervisor of Staff Development before ascending to executive leadership.

Current Androscoggin President and CEO, Kenneth Albert, RN, Esq. said, “The endowment scholarship honors Julie Shackley’s commitment to the nursing profession.  It further honors the education and skill necessary to provide high quality health care at home.”

Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice is the largest, non-profit independent home health and hospice organization in the state. It has been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Maine since 2006. To learn more about Androscoggin, visit

Auburn’s Winter Festival, ‘No Snow, No Problem’

From City of Auburn

AUBURN – No snow? No problem!

Auburn’s annual Winter Festival took place this past weekend, and with the focus on finding outdoor winter activities all winter long, it didn’t matter if there was snow or not.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to get out and enjoy the beauty of Auburn in winter.

Nels David Adler hangs onto the hand of his dad, Brian Shanker Adler of Portland, as he learns to ski on the beginner slope at Lost Valley ski area in Auburn last week. (Tsukroff photo)

“There is plenty to do outdoors in Maine – with or without snow,” said Auburn Recreation Director Sabrina Best. “And we encourage outdoor recreation in our city, especially all the various trail systems.” Lost Valley, the Lake Auburn Community Center, Mount Apatite and others all offer a variety of trail systems perfect for hiking, snowmobiling, fat tire biking and much more.

Winter Festival 2021 kicked off last Friday with a “Virtual Story Time” presented by the Auburn Public Library at 10:00am on their Facebook Page: The Library also sponsored the Auburn Storywalk last weekend. Storywalk is a series of display cases in downtown Auburn, stretching along the Riverwalk from Bonney Park to Festival Plaza.

Lost Valley is a wonderful place to visit during winter months, offering traditional outdoor trail systems for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and more. Even though there may not be snow on most trails in Auburn right now, Lost Valley has snow and the team there is ready for some WinterFest fun.

“Lost Valley has been making snow for a week straight,” said Travis Dow from Dow Media, LLC. “We’re open daily, including this Friday from noon to 8:00PM and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00AM to 4:00PM for skiing & snowboarding. Come out and play!”

“This year’s WinterFest theme has changed a bit,” said Best. “Instead of events during one specific weekend, we are promoting trails and outdoor recreation all winter long.” There are a several opportunities for group exploring; all will follow Maine CDC guidelines and requirements.

A Tree and Bird Identification Walk took place Sunday at Pettengill Park Trail system, presented by the Auburn Conservation Commission/Community Forest Subcommittee.

Cooper Warner of Gorham works his way down the slope at Lost Valley ski area in Auburn at the start of Auburn’s Winter Festival last Friday. (Tsukroff photo)

Dog Sledding, a Guided Nature Snowshoe Tour, and snowshoeing are planned for Saturday, Feb. 27, and Sunday, Feb. from 1-4 p.m. at East Auburn Baptist Church. Pre-registration is required. Visit or call 207-782-0348.

A guided winter hike took place at Mount Apatite on Saturday, starting at the Small Road entrance. The hike was presented by Friends of Mount Apatite. Ice spikes and walking sticks were optional.

Residents who want to try snowshoeing this winter but do not have the equipment are invited to borrow some through Auburn Recreation. The department has more than 30 pairs of snowshoes available for residents to borrow and use this winter. For information, call 333-6611.

Miles O-Brien of Topsham catches air on his snowboard on the slopes at Lost Valley ski and snowboard area in Auburn as Auburn’s Winter Festival 2021 kicked off last Friday. (Tsukroff photo)

“WinterFest is always a favorite here in Auburn,” said Liz Allen, Director of Communications for the city. “This year, we are especially pleased to offer an interactive ‘storymap,’ showcasing many local trail systems as well as our Winter Festival activities and venues.” This map will be left up all winter long and can be found at or

State of the City 2021

Auburn, Maine

from Mayor Levesque

From Mayor Levesque

Transcript of the recent State of the City 2021 address from Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque:

Welcome to Auburn Hall. I’m mayor Jason Levesque.

As you can see, this State of the City address is being recorded in my office here at Auburn Hall. Like you, I’m abiding by state executive orders and I take comfort in knowing that the wonderful people that make up this great city are represented in this office. I fully believe that our faith in the future of Auburn, and the foundation established by our predecessors will guide us toward greatness for generations to come.

I want to take a moment today to thank City Manager Phil Crowell and our dedicated City staff for working so hard to keep our residents safe, and to keep everything running as smoothly as possible during these unprecedented times. Team Auburn truly is exceptional.

I also extend my thanks to the members of the City Council, for showing great leadership and courage throughout this pandemic. They continue to ask hard questions, put the people of Auburn first, and tackle difficult subjects with thoughtfulness.

Most importantly, I want to thank Auburn residents and visitors for their perseverance throughout the past year. It has been tumultuous and challenging to say the least. But you are an inspiration.

There are also some very special, deeply dedicated groups I want to recognize today.

To the Friends of Mt. Apatite, who partnered with city staff, took over 300 acres of underutilized city park and turned it into a world class biking and hiking destination…thank you.

To the Auburn Ski Association, which has worked quietly and steadfastly for YEARS to support winter activities in our city, providing opportunities for residents of all ages regardless of background…thank you.

To Auburn Suburban Baseball & Softball, for making your vision for a new state-of-the-art athletic facility on Stevens Mill Road a reality…thank you. That facility will be an asset to our community for generations.

To all the fans, coaches, players, and business supporters of Auburns Sports programs: you make our dream of a culture of sport, with its lessons in competition, physical activity, and the pursuit of greatness a reality for so many. Thank you.

To the Auburn Business Association, Auburn Exchange Club, Optimist Club, Masons, and countless other civic and fraternal groups who work tirelessly to beautify our city, honor our Veterans, feed our families, and support our youth through scholarships & mentoring…thank you.

To our small business owners: For working hard and struggling to stay open through the pandemic. Your innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit is an inspiration to us all. For keeping your doors open, providing goods and services to our city, despite the sometimes punitive and reactive restrictions you have endured…thank you.

To the residents who volunteer their time, skills, and enthusiasm, whether at our emergency food bank or on one of our countless city committees and boards…you represent what is best about this city, in fact, you are truly the ones shaping our future, and it does not go unnoticed. Thank you.

My last “State of the City” message was in January of 2019. Since then, there have been many highs and lows. We celebrated Auburn’s 150th anniversary in an epic, year-long display of community pride, a celebration of our history, honor, and heritage; and we also faced unprecedented challenges, from a turbulent election cycle, to a pandemic.

We have all worked so hard to overcome these challenges, and while we still have some ground to cover, we have shown that through determination, and hard work, we can weather anything that comes our way. Life will continue, it is which path we choose that will define our city and our lives in the future.

In 2020, despite the challenges and trials, we accomplished so much to be proud of. I don’t want that to be overlooked as we face the crisis at hand.

Within both our City and School Government, we have new leadership, and you can be confident that the teams in place are truly experts in their respective fields. They have the will, the knowledge, and the ability to make incredible things happen. I hope you find that as exciting as I do.

Our schools have done an exemplary job, balancing education, the mental and physical health of more than 3,300 students, the construction of our new high school, and countless other things. We are fortunate to have so many caring and talented people protecting and nurturing our city’s future.

Your representatives on the City Council have also been busy, from passing a budget that lowered – or kept flat – your property taxes, to making smart investments in equipment and infrastructure. This council continues to impress and encourage, with their focus on quality of life, strategic planning, and fiscal responsibility.

On the Economic front, Auburn has been setting records almost monthly. In fact, Auburn will soon see over 1 million new square feet of industrial and retail development throughout the city! From the new Target and Chipotle on Center Street, and Holy

Donut on Minot Avenue, to the expansion and hiring at countless existing and new companies throughout our city. Simply put, that means more jobs, and more opportunity…for those who already live here and for those who are and will be moving here in the not-too-distant future.

Speaking of that…we have also had record growth in home building and rehabilitation. You can’t miss the transformation when you drive around town these days.

I’m delighted to report that we have completed – and dedicated – our beautiful new “Anniversary Park” in New Auburn, which features a huge new bell tower that is the forever home of the historic, treasured Bells of St. Louis Church. The tower is surrounded by more than 300 commemorative bricks and the park will be a special place for us to gather as a community.

In the near future, expect that the bell tower will be temporarily dwarfed by cranes erecting new buildings at the heart of our New, New Auburn Village.

While we have accomplished SO much, much remains to be done.

We still have problems within our city; from generational poverty, to food insecurity, to a lack of affordable and equitable housing, to an above-average property tax rate.

I truly believe that the best and most efficient solution to our problems is to promote growth, encourage and allow for more investment, specifically, the construction and sale of market rate homes.

And when I say more, I mean about 2,000 more homes, over the next five to seven years. These will not be faceless houses, these will be homes with real, hard-working people, raising families and building memories. I want us to embrace this solution and stop making excuses for our lack of action. We do not have to choose between competing interests, we can, in fact, “have our cake and eat it, too.” We can balance our commitment to protect our environment with our desire to grow our downtown, and our residential and industrial base.

Auburn’s population is around 24,000, spread out over nearly 70 square miles of land. That is bigger than Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, and Cape Elizabeth combined!

We have the space, the perfect location within the state, and the infrastructure to comfortably handle an additional 2,000 new market rate homes.

What happens if we achieve this? For starters:

• Our taxes will go down by approximately 20%. We are already paying for and have the infrastructure, and public safety staff to handle this influx of residents.

• New industry and commerce will locate here, further enhancing our quality of life and decreasing our reliance on residential property taxes.

• Our existing businesses will have more employees and customers and they will THRIVE, not just survive.

In short, our city will become more sustainable and robust. This is not wishful thinking, it is reality, backed by data and examples across the US. And it can be our reality here in Auburn!

By revisiting our archaic, protectionist and – in my opinion – biased zoning ordinances, we will promote equity for all residents, allowing them the opportunity that others have had, regardless of race, religion, or creed. We need to be fair to those who work hard but are currently unable to achieve their fullest potential. Expanded housing supply will keep home prices affordable, allowing our residents to achieve the American dream of home ownership. Data shows that this is the best path out of generational poverty. Who are we to pick those that can or can’t raise their families here because we continue to promote unfair zoning ordinances, when we have the ability to change them?

Last year, we were at a crossroads, and I feel that we choose the “path less traveled.” The path that Auburn chose to follow leads toward the belief that individuals, not government, will ensure that our city continues to grow and become vibrant and sustainable for future generations. I want us to strip away needless regulations and red tape. When we do, the people in our community will do the right thing. And we will all grow and prosper. I believe that the time to put our promise into action is now.

We must stay focused on growth as the only true and honest way toward prosperity. Prosperity for all our residents, not just a select few. Investment from the private sector should continue to be sought out, encouraged, and embraced. Some critics of growth and equity will denounce ‘developers’ as Scrooge-like villains. They will use fear tactics and emotions to perpetuate a negative and toxic stereotype. It is not true. Ask yourself, what developer would invest money into a city with the purpose of hurting the very thing that drew their investment? NONE.

My promise to those looking to invest in Auburn: Come here with an open mind. Know that you will find willing and welcoming partners at city hall. Know that you will find regulatory consistency within our government. Know that once you commit to our city the residents will welcome you and take pride in your success. Take Chipotle’s national record-setting opening day as a great example!

And so, to the City Council: In the year ahead, I ask you to propose and approve changes to our Comprehensive Plan and our zoning ordinances, making them more equitable for all residents, promoting growth and investment.

I ask you join me in supporting and encouraging developers who want to invest in our city, not only because of profit, but for the opportunity to help make the city better and more appealing.

I ask you to focus on proposing solutions and compromise, versus partisan talking points and the will of special interest groups, who are narrowly focused on their mission statement versus the growth of our city.

I ask you to make it a goal to revise our regulations, stripping all but those that are imperative for the health and safety of those that live, work, and play in our City.

And lastly, I ask you work toward a budget that requires no increase to our already high property tax rate. Weigh each investment against its potential return.

To our regional partners: I ask you to continue to work with us on a variety of endeavors. But do so in a fair and equitable fashion. The time of relying on the generosity of Auburn taxpayers to subsidize your undertakings is at an end. Fairness, and honesty must prevail above all else.

To our City administration and staff: Thank you for taking policy and making it reality. I know it can be a thankless job, but I appreciate your ongoing efforts to grow our city. The future will hold challenges as you continue to make government more efficient. But keep moving forward and the results will make all of us stronger.

To our schools & our educators: You are challenged this year like no other and I cannot begin to thank you all for the hard work you have all done over the past 10 months. But the reality is that what we are – and have been doing – is NOT working. I applaud our new Superintendent, Dr. Brown, and our School Committee Chair for leading the conversation forward and proposing new ways for Auburn to have one of the top school systems in the State. Embrace change. Embrace a unified path forward and do not believe the tired excuses that have been used to justify historically poor performance for a decade. Your city and its youth are depending on results – not excuses – to succeed and build a better life for themselves and their families.

To our great volunteer groups and residents: Do more great things. Never hesitate to ask me for support, to help find solutions to problems, in order to make your dreams a reality.

And lastly, to the people of Auburn: You have a decision to make. Do you want to move forward together, toward prosperity? Is Auburn to lead or are we to follow? I have confidence that your decision will be – as it has been for 150 years – for our city to move forward…with “no backward steps.”

I look forward to when we can all gather again as a community. I look forward to co-hosting Maine’s Bicentennial parade in Auburn this year. I look forward to a return to normalcy.

I look forward to spending time with you, my friends, and neighbors at our local businesses debating potholes and taxes without a mask after 9pm!

And I look forward to together, celebrating New Year’s 2022 in our beautiful downtown.

Because I know that when we will look back at 2021, it will be with a sense of pride and accomplishment. And I trust that history will judge us favorably on our ability to overcome and grow; and to thrive in the face of adversity.

Thank you for your continued trust and support as we move forward to a happy and healthy new year! It is a profound honor to be your mayor.

Lunar New Year Celebration 2021


PORTLAND – The Chinese & American Friendship Association of Maine (CAFAM), in partnership with the University of Southern Maine Confucius Institute, will celebrate the ‘Year of the Ox’ with a virtual event beginning on February 11.

This annual Chinese New Year celebration is the largest and longest-sustaining Chinese cultural event in Maine, attracting hundreds of visitors each year to enjoy a day of live performances, speakers, crafts, displays and delicious food.

However, due to the pandemic, this year’s event has been moved online to adhere to state restrictions.

This event will include festive music and lion dance performances, DIY at-home activities, informative speakers, calligraphy, links to celebrations around the world, a holiday marketplace and a live interactive cooking class.

CAFAM will be announcing a full program schedule, craft instructions and pre-registration for the live cooking class.

All the 2021 events, presentations and activities will be available on the CAFAM website at The virtual event is Feb. 11 and 12, with a live cooking demonstration from 4-5 p.m. on Feb. 13. Visitors can follow the events on the website.

CAFAM is a small, all volunteer, organization of about 100 individuals and families.

The group conducts three annual events –  the lunar new year, a summer potluck picnic, and a moon festival celebration.

CAFAM also sponsors a Chinese language group that meets every two weeks, tai chi on Saturdays in July and August in Deering Oaks Park in Portland, and occasional events including speakers, calligraphy demonstrations, Chinese dance and Chinese puppetry.

The organization co-sponsors an archive related to the Chinese community in Maine with the Maine Historical Society. Items in that archive can be found with the search word “chinese” at mainememory,net.

Fontaine Family partners with Safe Voices

From Fontaine Family

LEWISTON/AUBURN – Fontaine Family – The Real Estate Leader partnered once again with Safe Voices at the end of 2020 by donating food items and gifts to their holiday donation events.

Each year, Safe Voices holds a Feed-A-Family for Thanksgiving event and Adopt-A-Family for the holiday event. Our team was matched with families within Androscoggin, Oxford or Franklin counties experiencing domestic abuse and violence during the holidays.

Although 2020 was a bit different and Fontaine Family was unable to encourage the public and local businesses to get involved as well, the team pulled together and generously donated the food items and gifts needed for each family.

Gifts for the Adopt-a-Family holiday event, donated by the Fontaine Family – The Real Estate Leader of Lewiston/Auburn. (Photo courtesy of Fontaine Family)

The goal every year is to collect enough food items and gifts to adopt at least two families in need. Fontaine Family is  proud to continue the tradition of supporting families in need during the holidays.

Everything done at Fontaine Family – The Real Estate Leader is a team effort, including giving back to the community. Fontaine Family believes in giving back, because the loyalty of the community has been absolutely amazing, for which Fontaine Family is forever grateful.

Members of Fontaine Family – The Real Estate Leader of Lewiston/Auburn load food for donation to the Safe Voices Feed-a-Family event last Thanksgiving. (Photo courtesy of Fontaine Family)

The mission of Safe Voices is to support and empower those affected by Domestic Violence and engage the community in creating social change. Safe Voices is a private non-profit organization and sole provider of support services and shelter operator for victims of domestic violence in Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties.

Fontaine Family – The Real Estate Leader is a highly skilled real estate team of licensed professionals dedicated to focusing on the client. Fontaine was awarded 2019 Maine Family Business of the Year, voted Best Real Estate Company in the Greater Lewiston/Auburn Area and Greater Portland Area, recognized by Real Trends as a 2019 America’s Top 250 Real Estate Team and published in the Wall Street Journal in the Top 250 Real Estate Professionals ranking in the top ½ of 1% of Realtors outperforming 99.9% of the nation’s Realtors.

The Fontaine Family Team serves 8 counties – Androscoggin, Cumberland, York, Sagadahoc, Oxford, Kennebec, Franklin and Somerset – in two locations, 336 Center Street in Auburn and 432 US Route One in Scarborough. For more information visit or call (207)784-3800 or (207)289-3830

DEP delays enforcement of bag, container ban

From Maine DEP

AUGUSTA – the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is delaying its enforcement of the laws that ban the use of plastic carry-out bags and polystyrene foam containers products until July 1.

A statewide ban on single-use plastic carry-out bags had been scheduled to go into effect Jan. 15 and the polystyrene foam disposable food service container ban had been scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1.

The Department is taking this approach in response to several practical and logistical effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has disrupted traditional food marketing and packaging supplies.  Demand for groceries, “curbside pickup,” and takeout food has increased, while the demand for paper bags and thicker reusable plastic bags has also increased resulting in substantially less supply of both 4 mil reusable plastic bags and paper bags – the substitutes allowed for single-use plastic carry-out bags under the bag law.  Additionally, due to concerns over possible virus transmission, many retailers have asked customers not to bring reusable bags from home, moving consumers back to store-supplied single-use bags. 

The pandemic is also causing a similar disruption with alternatives to polystyrene foam disposable food service containers that fall under the ban.  In addition to a disruption in available packaging supplies, COVID-19 safety protocols have led to greater caution with handling of food and beverages and increased demand for disposable food service ware.  Schools, homeless shelters, and other groups are providing more food in disposable packaging than before the pandemic. 

The delay in enforcement of these bans is not intended to downplay the importance of eliminating single-use plastic carry-out bags and polystyrene foam disposable food service containers from the waste stream, but rather to address current concerns related to impacts of the pandemic.  The Department strongly encourages those that use single-use plastic carry-out bags and polystyrene foam disposable food service containers to use this additional time to focus on procuring alternatives to these products and on depleting current stocks of these products before the July 1 enforcement date.  The Department previously delayed the statewide prohibition on single-use plastic carry-out bags from its effective date of Apr. 22, 2020.

New auto dealership in Brunswick sees employees as best assets

By Nathan Tsukroff

BRUNSWICK – Caring about your customers starts with caring about your employees.

That’s the philosophy of Otis Soohey, the general manager of the new Darling’s Ford dealership at 262 Bath Road in Brunswick. “Our belief at Darling’s is that our employees are our best assets,” he said.

Yankee Ford “was very concerned about their employees, as are we,” Soohey said. The dealerships worked closely to ensure a smooth transition of ownership. “Whether they’ve been with us for a day or thirty years, we feel (the employees) are part of the Darling’s family right away.”

“We know the old adage – if you take care of your employees, they take of your customers. Quite frankly, it works!” Soohey said.

Darling’s Auto Group purchased the dealership from Yankee Ford in December. Soohey stresses taking care of employees so they will take care of the customers. (Tsukroff photo)

The majority of the approximately 35 employees remained with the dealership, and Soohey said Darling’s is actually looking to add employees for its full service department. The dealership has 16 service bays and is looking to hire auto technicians of all levels of ability, from entry-level technicians to change tires and fix brakes tire-changers “all the way up to diesel mechanics.”

Modern auto repair requires technical knowledge of automotive electronics in order to diagnose issues, Soohey said. “I’ve become very impressed with technicians today. They can do both – they can do old-school, but with modern technology, they combine the two together. It’s pretty impressive!”  

Darling’s Ford also sells new and used parts in its parts department.

Darling’s Auto Group purchased the dealership from Yankee Ford in December to expand the Darling’s Auto Group family of businesses to the southern Maine region.

Darling’s has five other dealerships in Bangor, Ellsworth, and Augusta, and represents Ford, Volkswagen, Audi, GMC, Buick, Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, Chevrolet, Honda, Nissan, Volvo, and Hyundai brands across these locations.

The Yankee Ford Brunswick acquisition adds a second Ford dealership to their roster. The other Ford dealership is in Bangor.

Darling’s has been a Ford dealership for more than 30 years, and has followed other Ford dealers in Maine throughout the years, Soohey said. “We always thought the Yankee Ford in Brunswick showed some promise.”

Darling’s Auto Group President Jay Darling said, “As the current Yankee Brunswick Ford staff joins the Darling’s family, customers can expect we’ll all be going above and beyond in their community.”

“I’m excited to see how the staff at Yankee Ford has been operating and to learn from their experiences in this region. We’ve been doing this a long time in Bangor, Ellsworth and Augusta, but southern Maine offers us an opportunity to serve a new demographic which can help us grow our business in both locations as we learn from each other,” Darling said.

The acquisition represents a continued investment in profitable growth and community development, two pillars in the vision goals of Darling’s Auto Group. 

A Ford pickup truck sits under a temporary sign at the new Darling’s Ford dealership on Bath Road in Brunswick. Yankee Ford sold the dealership to Darling’s Auto Group in December. The trademark Ford “sail” graces the front of the building. (Tsukroff photo)

“We think this is a great area and a wonderful market to expand our operations,” Darling said. “The Brunswick and Bath area is incredibly vibrant and we are very excited to become a part of this region. With its close proximity to Bath Iron Works, Bowdoin College, and the many other existing businesses in the area, we see a huge potential for growth in this market. We will be sure to do everything we can to make this transition smooth and efficient both for the current employees there as well as their customers.”

Soohey said Brunswick “is a new market for us.” He said Darling researched the area and sees a lot of promise for growth. The dealership is just down the street from the local Walmart and Lowe’s Home Improvement stores. Plus, “We have Bath Iron Works and Bowdoin College” nearby, he said.

Yankee Ford updated the look of the building several years ago, Soohey said, adding the trademark Ford “sail”, a standing curved piece at the entrance to the building.

A Maine-based family and employee owned company, Darling’s has been doing business in Maine for over 100 years with roots going back to 1903. Today, it is one of the largest dealership groups in the state.

With a corporate office in Brewer, Darling’s currently has more than 400 full time employees.

The company also owns and operates The Darling’s Agency, an independent insurance agency that has been in business since 2007 as well as Green Point Auto Parts and Auto Sales in Brewer, Maine.

Soohey said the Yankee dealerships “are solid” and continue to sell cars at their other locations in South Portland and Rockland.

Dog license
renewal options

From City of Lewiston

LEWISTON – Dog owners in Lewiston have several options for re-licensing their pets for the new year with the Lewiston City Clerk’s Department. 

In order to license a dog, the dog must have a current rabies vaccination.  Dog licensing ensures rabies vaccination which protects the health of the pets and ultimately the community.   Rabies is a serious problem in some areas of the state so pet owners are encouraged to keep their dog’s rabies vaccinations up to date.

As a convenience, dog owners may obtain a license by mail, using the new red City Hall Drop Box next to the Park St entrance; or online; or in person at City Hall.  The dog owner must provide a copy of the current rabies certificate if not already on file, along with the dog’s name, the owner’s name, address and phone number, and a check payable to the City of Lewiston for the correct amount.  Dog license fees are $11.00 for a male or female dog; $6.00 for a spayed or neutered animal.

Residents who wish to process their dog’s license online can do so at the City’s website  at Once received, the tag for the new year will be mailed to the owner.  

The City Clerk’s Department has office hours on Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.  

Many dog owners may not have re-licensed their pet because they may have misplaced the animal’s rabies certificate, which is required to be shown at the time of licensing.  Pet owners should contact their veterinarian’s office to request a duplicate copy of the rabies certificate if they cannot locate their copy.

Questions can be directed to the City Clerk’s Department at 513-3124.

Change in the ending age for special education eligibility

From Maine DOE

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education announced last week that it is changing the ending age for special education eligibility.

Effective immediately, Maine will implement the “federal standard” and provide Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to eligible students until their 22nd birthday.

All school administrative units must notify adult students who would have previously “aged out” of special education on June 30, 2021 of their right to receive a free, public education until either they receive a regular high school diploma or their 22nd birthday, whichever comes first.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires states to provide “[a] free, appropriate public education . . . to all children with disabilities residing in the State between the ages of 3 and 21 inclusive[.]”  20 U.S.C. § 1415(a)(1)(A).  IDEA permits an exception to this general age range: “[t]he obligation to make a free, appropriate public education available to all children with a disabilities does not apply with respect to children . . . [aged] 18 through 21 in a State to the extent that its application to those children would be inconsistent with State law or practice, or the order of any court, respecting the provision of public education to [such] children[.]”  20 U.S.C. § 1415(a)(1)(B)(i).

Maine’s generally applicable age-eligibility statute states that students are eligible for a pK-12 public education until the end of the school year in which they turn 20 years old. 20-A M.R.S. § 5201(1). As a result, Maine has historically terminated a student with a disability’s eligibility for a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) at the end of the school year in which they turn 20.

In 2018, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that students are entitled to FAPE until age 22 (the so-called “federal standard”) where the state provides public education in the form of adult education to students who are under age 22 but older than the state “age out” for pK-12 education.  K.L. v. Rhode Island Board of Education, 907 F.3d 639 (2018).  The First Circuit concluded that for purposes of the IDEA, “public education” contains three basic attributes: (1) “a significant level of state or local government funding, [] (2) the public administration or oversight of the educational services” and (3) the education of students “up to the level of academic proficiency associated with the completion of secondary school.” Id. at 642, 644.

Maine’s adult education system meets the First Circuit’s definition of “public education” as it receives significant state and local government funding, is administered by the Department of Education and local public entities (primarily school administrative units either alone or in collaboration), and provides coursework that allows students to complete and receive their high school diplomas.  As such, there is little question that the same result would be reached by the First Circuit if Maine’s statutes were challenged.

After consulting with counsel, the Department has concluded that terminating eligibility to a free, appropriate public education at the end of the school year in which a student turns 20 pursuant to 20-A M.R.S. § 5201(1) years is inconsistent with the IDEA as interpreted by the First Circuit in K.L. v. Rhode Island Board of Education, 907 F.3d 639 (2018).

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