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This week’s edition!

Ebike brings back the joy of riding

By Nathan Tsukroff

Riding a bicycle isn’t just for kids. But it can lose its appeal, especially when you have to work out of town.

Just ask Nathan “Nate” LeClair of Auburn.

Nathan “Nate” LeClair of Auburn on a recent ride down Main Street in Lewiston on his ebike. The bicycle has both pedal-assist and a throttle, and LeClair often uses it to commute to his job as a shift manager the McDonald’s restaurant in Gray. This model bike, the Sinch from Aventon, has a range of about 40 miles when using the throttle mode. (Tsukroff photo)

Some of his first memories as a child are learning to ride a bike at 3 or 4 years old. “There’s pictures of me on the tricycle at the house,” LeClair said. And a year two later, he had moved up to a bike. “As soon as I got that sense of balance, without training wheels, I just really never stopped riding.”

“I’ve always loved the speed. I love the adrenaline rush of going fast!” he said.

After high school, he stopped riding for a couple of years. And then he discovered electric bikes, referred to as ebikes.

Now he enjoys commuting by ebike as often as he can from his home in Auburn to the McDonald’s Restaurant in Gray, where he works as a shift manager. His current bike is a Sinch foldable ebike, made by Aventon. It has 4-inch wide tires for safe riding on all road conditions, and can be folded to carry in his car when needed.

The Sinch bike can be ridden like a regular bike, with the rider doing all the work. Or it can be used in an assist mode, where the electric motor gives some extra help while pedaling. There is also a fully-electric mode, with a throttle that can push the rider to 20 mph on level ground without pedaling. The Sinch has a range of about 40 miles in throttle mode.

LeClair said he had been riding his dad’s road bikes, including a Schwinn, that had been “in the storage shed maybe 20 or 30 years.” After tuning the bikes, he rode around town, and discovered what is called Goff Hill – a steep downhill on  Court Street that bottoms out at the intersection with Minot Avenue (Route  4).

“After a while, once a day I would go down there as fast as I could,” he said. “I’ve easily clocked over 40 miles an hour going down Goff Hill.”

He graduated high school and stopped riding for a while. He said he missed riding. “It never went away as an interest. It was kind of always on the back burner.”

One day he stopped in at a local bike shop, Rainbow Bicycle on Lisbon Street in Lewiston, and discovered electric bikes. “I had never tried one, and I thought, you know, I haven’t been riding for a little while . . . it wouldn’t hurt to test one out and see how it is,” LeClair said.

He was allowed to borrow an ebike and took it to Simard-Payne Memorial Park off Beech Street in Lewiston. That bike had four levels of pedal-assist, but no throttle, LeClair said. With pedal-assist, “It gives you an extra push (when pedaling). You feel the motor kick in. It helps you out a little bit. You still have to put work into it – exercise.”

“It was like love at first test-drive,” he said, and he bought the ebike immediately.

Simard_Payne Park has biking and walking trails, and is used as the main launching point for hot air balloons at the annual Balloon Fest in August

As much as he enjoyed riding that bike, it topped out at 20 mph, and he “soon discovered a bike that went 28 miles and hour.”

LeClair was soon riding the Aventon Pace 500, which had both pedal-assist and a throttle. It ran at 20 mph on full throttle, or could help the rider to 28 mph with pedal-assist.

Nate LeClair of Auburn rides through Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston on his ebike on a recent winter afternoon. He commutes by bike to his workplace in Gray as often as possible. (Tsukroff photo)

He suffered a series of flat tires with the Pace 500, and shifted to his current bike, the model Sinch from Aventon. That solved his flat-tire problem, and the wider tires gave him stability when riding on different road conditions. Both ebikes have a suspension front fork, which acts like the shock absorbers in a car.

LeClair sees this third ebike as a good compromise for general riding. The tires are like those of a mountain bike, and it’s foldable for easy transport in his car, he said.

He recently purchased a Juiced Bikes Scorpion model, which is a moped-style ebike. “That’s my fastest bike. I can get like 31 miles per hour on flat land,” he said.

LeClair rides his bikes to his work in Gray as often as he can. In city traffic, he easily keeps pace with the passing cars, and front and rear lights on his bike ensure drivers seem him in the roadway.

Nate LeClair’s Aventon Sinch ebike is folded for transport in his car. The bike is battery-powered with a range of 40 miles in throttle mode, and folds for storage or transport. (Tsukroff photo)

Although working full time, LeClair is studying for a degree in political science, taking courses parttime at Central Maine Community College in Auburn.

He said his interest in politics was triggered by a joke played on him by one of his uncles when he was growing up. At four or five years old, his uncle teased him by offering him a $100 bill if he could name the person on the bill. “I told him it was Ben Franklin,” to the shocked surprise of his uncle.

Vigil raises awareness of homeless

From New Beginnings

LEWISTON – The Lewiston/Auburn Alliance for Services to the Homeless (LAASH), L-A Multifaith Group, and New Beginnings conducted their annual candlelight vigil in late December to remember homeless people on the longest night of the year.

Matt Beliveau of Mechanic Falls holds a sign at the recent Lewiston-Auburn Homeless Vigil near the Hopeful sign on Main Street in Lewiston. (Tsukroff photo)

The vigil took place on Monday, Dec. 21, on Main Street in Lewiston, near the Longley Bridge that connects Lewiston to Auburn.

It was part of a national movement of cities marking National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day on or near the winter solstice, the first day of winter.

Denise Vaillancourt of Lewiston (left), Lisa Dumont of Auburn, and Jonathan Robinson of Turner stand silently near the Hopeful sign on Main Street in Lewiston with signs reminding passing motorists about the homeless, as part of the L-A Homeless Vigil on Monday, Dec. 21, the longest night of the year. (Tsukroff photo)

Supporters met at 4:30 p.m. below the HOPEFUL sign along Main Street. They carried flashlights, candles and signs to raise awareness of homelessness to passersby during the Monday evening commute.

Activists said that three homeless people died in the Lewiston/Auburn area this past year.

A candle held by one of the people at the recent Lewiston-Auburn Homeless Vigil to bring attention to the problem of homelessness in the area. (Tsukroff photo)

Each year since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless has co-sponsored National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness. In an effort to maximize the impact of the day, organizers have encouraged statewide and local groups such as LAASH to conduct events of their own.

Laying wreaths at Togus National Cemetery

Out and About

By Rachel Morin

Our seventh year for our annual trek to Togus National Cemetery for Wreaths Across America Day was on Saturday, Dec. 19.

It was a day we observed with many changes due to the Year 2020 with the COVID-19 Virus.

We felt it acutely as our number had dwindled to three due to traveling problems and other virus considerations. We were just as strong and motivated as ever to arrive at Togus to participate in the Sacred Tradition of laying Remembrance Wreaths on the graves of our Veterans.

Patricia Vampatella and Cindy Boyd, Co-Chair of WWA with Joanne Sabourin, members of USM’s Lewiston-Auburn Senior College, drove in separate cars, no carpooling, and met early at the cemetery with Kaye Bouchard, Coordinator for Wreath Laying at Togus. These women have been doing it for years and have the system memorized.

Cindy Boyd, Patricia Vampatella, Joanne Sabourin and Kaye Bouchard wait at the Entrance Gate at Togus National Cemetery for the Hammond Lumber Company truck to arrive loaded with hundreds of boxes of Remembrance Wreaths for the Veterans’ gravesites. (Visitor photo)

Kaye informed us there would be no noontime Ceremony at the Togus flagpole in coordination with the noon Ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery and Veteran cemeteries across the nation and overseas.

Due to Covid restrictions against mass gatherings, there would be no Representatives of Military Branches including Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, POWs and MIAs at the flagpole.

 These Representatives would have laid Remembrance Wreaths around the flagpole. No speeches, no prayers, no singing and no Passing of the Colors. Although in our hearts, we had silent thoughts and prayers for our Veterans.

At 11 am the Hammond Lumber Company Truck was at the main gate of the cemetery to open the back doors as directed by Coordinator Kaye Bouchard to unload the hundreds of boxes of Remembrance Wreaths. This task was done swiftly as always. The Hammond Lumber Company has been a mainstay at Wreaths Across America at Togus forever.

We were heartened to see, as always, a large number of volunteers taking the boxes and stepping aside, to open the boxes and start distributing bunches of wreaths to outstretched waiting arms of volunteers. They set out quickly to their appointed cemetery locations. We noticed everyone wearing masks and were pleased.

Patricia, as always, makes a point to place wreaths on the tombstones of the two Medal of Honor Veterans at Togus – John Preston and David J. Scannell. Because of the heavy snow, she enlisted the help of a Police Officer who was patrolling the cemetery grounds.

The Officer was able to locate John Preston and cleared away the snow for us so we could read his history. Preston was born in Ireland in 1841, enlisted in Boston in the Navy, and served in the Union Navy during the American Civil War at the Battle of Mobile Bay. Preston died May 26, 1885.

A Togus police officer clears the snow covering Medal of Honor John Preston’s gravesite. Born in Ireland in 1841, Preston joined the Navy in Boston and served as a Union Navy Sailor in the American Civil War and received his Medal of Honor for his action in the Battle of Mobile Bay. (Joanne Sabourin photo)

Unable to find Scannell’s grave site, we knew that David J. Scannell was born Mar. 30, 1875 and died May 7, 1923. He was a Pvt in the U.S. Marine Corp and saw action in the Boxer Rebellion in China.

Patricia, ever the teacher, saw a young family at the Preston grave site, and gave an impromptu telling of the story of the two Medals of Honor Recipients, John Preston and David Scannell. The young boys were interested and had questions for the teacher which she was happy to answer.

It was getting late and time to leave. Our customary stopping for lunch along the way home was another custom not observed.

It was a different year as we all have experienced this past year with the virus engulfing our every turn. But we carry on, because we must. And each day, we remind ourselves “This too shall pass.”

A heartwarming scene as Remembrance Wreaths cover the Veterans’ tombstones at Togus National Cemetery. (Joanne Sabourin photo)

What is steadfast in the hearts of all the volunteers: “It is an honor and a privilege to participate each year in the Laying of the Remembrance Wreaths at the gravesites of our Veterans.” We look forward to standing at each gravesite, looking at the name, and saying quietly, “I remember you,” and speaking their full name aloud.

Togus National Cemetery is located in Kennebec County, in the town of Chelsea, ME, on the grounds of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical and Regional Office Center.

Tips For Taking Your Kids Fishing

Guest Column

By Laurie Wilkins

As a parent, few things bring as much joy as watching your child enjoy the things you enjoy. Sharing a common interest with them makes an already immeasurably special relationship that much more special.

For avid anglers (or even the weekend fisherman), nothing could bring deeper joy to us than to see our kids learning the beautiful art of fishing. However, they’re not going to know how to spool or how to properly cast straight off the bat, and teaching them all of this can be daunting.

As with any fishing you do (or anything in life, really), poor preparation equates to poor performance, so if you’re looking to truly get the most from your child’s first trip, ensuring that you’ve adequately prepared is essential!

Freshwater is easily accessible (there are over 250 lakes in the US alone!), even in landlocked areas.

Generally, freshwater affords you a variety of fishing experiences, from large lakes to small creeks, and will often provide you the opportunity to fish a variety of bodies, without having to leave a single location.

The species that inhabit freshwater are less tricky to land as well, so choosing a great freshwater spot for your first trip may be a key factor in ensuring you and your family enjoy the day out.

Surf fishing is just as viable an option, as the beach offers activities for the kids to entertain themselves while waiting for a bite and piers provide all the benefits of being on a boat, without the risk of motion sickness or falling into the water.

Both freshwater and saltwater fishing can be great places to start. 

Your determining factors should include the set-up you own, the species you are looking to hook, travel distance (no one wants to go fishing with children who have been cooped up in a car for 5 hours), and kid-friendliness (not too much brush, areas with no drop-offs at the water’s edge, and so on). 

In my opinion, ditch the baby poles and go for something that will teach your kids to fish properly from day one.

You’ll form a basis on which they can grow and become great anglers in their own right, without needing to re-learn habits as they switch to the “big bog rods”.

It’s not only the rod you’ll want to keep in mind – the spinner that you choose will play a huge role in the ease-of-use of your rig – I’d recommend checking out my roundup of the highest quality reel for surf fishing.

Ask anyone what the “right bait for the job” is, and they’d give you a vastly different answer from the next person that you ask – and that’s just for one type of fish.

For beginners or those teaching beginners, I’d recommend fishing for easy to catch species in freshwater, such as sunnies, bass, and trout, and using live bait to do so.

Again, this is completely subjective, but I like to use live bait when taking kids fishing for a few reasons. One, the kiddos get to collect their bait themselves.

Digging up worms can be just as fun as the fishing itself for aspiring anglers.

The second reason is that it’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about the food chain and how each organism, no matter how seemingly insignificant, plays a huge role in its own ecosystem.

I mean, who doesn’t love a good biology lesson, right?

It’s not only the fish that’ll be biting (take snacks)

Take snacks that can be packed and eaten easily, such as crackers, sandwiches (avoid messy fillings), jerky, bags of nuts, and chicken nuggets.

I’d also recommend having plenty of water on hand, as a busy day outside can cause dehydration.

Even the strongest swimmers can suffer from fatigue, and a day on the water is taxing on even the most experienced fisherman among us.

As you likely know, an accidental fall into the water for a child can have devastating consequences.

When fishing with kids, ensure you have life jackets on hand (that fit) and a standard first aid kit. 

You’ve prepared all the gear, now it’s time to prepare yourself!

Let’s chat about what you can expect on your first (few) fishing trips with the kids. 

Expect the unexpected…

There is a great likelihood that things may not go as planned, and that’s all part of the fun. As with most things that involve children, there will likely be many encounters that you have not or could not have planned for – make this part of the fun!

Prepare to be flexible in the outcome of your day.

I have a friend whose son was more interested in pulling reeds out of the lake we were fishing in, than the fish themselves, but he had a blast and still learned about essentials like casting, baiting a hook, and having fun while fishing!

Given that the day may not go as planned, you may want to have a backup plan in mind. I always enjoy taking a picnic blanket on trips that I do with kids.

If they lose interest in fishing after a while or the fish aren’t biting that day, we sit and enjoy a nice picnic.

If you’re fishing at a camping ground, consider switching to a hike or roasting marshmallows, so that even if “Plan A” is not a success, “Plan B” will ensure that you and the family still enjoy the day!

I have a few friends who simply refuse to go fishing with me, no matter how hard I try to convince them to tag along.

Many of them say their early fishing experiences were ruined by an adult who made them sit quietly while they watched the adult have all the fun.

We want to avoid that, so let’s run through a few tips I would recommend for anyone trying to keep it “kid-friendly”. 

There are few things that I have more fun doing than fishing.

The smells, the sights, the activity itself – it’s bliss.

If you’re taking your kids fishing, you likely love fishing just as much as I do and want to share that love with your kids.

Show your kids how to enjoy your passion in the same way that drives you to fish in the first place, by making it fun!

Don’t worry too much about whether you take home a catch that day or if they’re casting perfectly, but rather enjoy the activity that you’re doing with them because that’s what will make the trip special for them too!

Something that I see a lot of anglers doing at the local hole when teaching their kids to fish, is turning it into a lesson.

Let’s be real, that’s not what they want from the day.

I suggest setting yourself a list of goals based on what you want them to learn and spread it out over a few trips.

First, this gives you an excuse to turn a single trip into many.

The second reason you’ll want to do this is that you don’t center the excursion around learning to fish in one day, but rather small steps that will lead to a great outcome!

Even now, in my early 30’s, I make sure that any one-day fishing trips that I take see me enjoying an ice cream from the local shop on the way home.

Strange as it may sound, it’s a tradition my granddad started when he first introduced me to fishing.

Making a tradition of your fishing trips will create a positive association with the sport and create memories that your children will carry with them for life. 

Winter Fishing

So now you’re all keen and ready to take the kids fishing, but the winter months are upon us…

Don’t let that get you down!

Winter fishing can be some of the most rewarding fishing you do, as the cold months mean many freshwater fish are grouping, all while the less committed anglers stay home and leave you to fish entire lakes on your own!

More fish, less competition? That sounds like a winning formula to me! Here are some tips for you and the kids to enjoy winter fishing together.

It goes without saying, but winter fishing is, well, cold.

Depending on where you’re doing your fishing, the temperature can drop below zero – not exactly shorts and T-shirt weather.

Dress in layers and take spare clothes.

Layers allow you to manage your body temperature while bringing extra clothes can save you if you find yourself wet and in need of dry, warm clothes.

Don’t forget your ice cleats either – they’ll probably be your most valuable accessory once you’re on the ice.

There are a bunch of extras that you can take along to make your trip more comfortable, and then there are some extras that you simply cannot go without. This includes sunscreen, blankets (extra for the kiddos), sleeping bags (take some time to investigate your options here), floatation device (life jackets, compact PFD, etc), and ice claws (preferably with a strap hang around the neck when not being worn).

Do your research before heading out!

This is especially true for winter fishermen, who will need to know the species they are hunting and the safest way to fish in the areas they are headed to.

Ice that is safe to walk on should be over four inches thick – if you’re unsure about ice thickness, contact the park or grounds managers where you plan to fish and enquire.

Keep an eye out for ice near the edge of the water body, as well as ice near debris, such as fallen trees and rocks.

Ice near these is generally thinner and susceptible to breaking.

Carrying a spud bar on you is a simple way to test the ice and ensure that it is safe to walk on.

When you have kids with you, it is advisable to have at least one other adult with you and to ensure that an adult walks in front and behind the group when walking on ice.

Two things that you’ll see a lot of when you search for anything related to ice fishing is “hypothermia” and “frostbite”.


Well, simply because you’re going to be facing extreme temperatures and the repercussions of poor preparation can be dire.

Laurie Wilkins is an Englishman who loves the outdoors. His fondness for all things wild started with climbing trees as a kid and over the years has expanded into fishing, hiking, camping, backpacking and survival.

(All photographs courtesy of SIH Media)

Keeping patients safe for eye exams

By Nathan Tsukroff

LEWISTON – Seeing patients means careful screening and social distancing for medical practices under COVID-19 restrictions.

That’s especially true at Optometric Associates on East Avenue in Lewiston. 

From the initial screening of all patients and visitors to the practice, through examinations and checkout, doctors and other staff at the practice have created a safe environment for anyone needing help with issues with their eyes.

Cindy H., optical manager of the eyewear center at Optometric Associates on East Avenue in Lewiston, describes the choices for glasses frames to patients. (Tsukroff photo)

Optometric Associates is a team of three doctors who treat issues ranging from patients needing glasses to those suffering from glaucoma, problems with the retina (the rear of the eye, where images are formed), dry eye, or needing LASIK comanagement.

 Practice management was made all the more difficult with the restrictions imposed under the State of Maine COVID-19 guidelines. Like other businesses in Maine, the practice closed its doors near the end of the March as the state was temporarily shut down at the start of the pandemic.

“During that time I consulted a lot of the guidelines from the (Maine Center for Disease Control) CDC on how to maintain as safe as possible conditions to continue to do eye exams,” Douglas J. Henry, O.D., Ph.D., said.

Henry is the lead doctor for the practice, having joined Drs. George Bournakel and Pauline Beale at the practice in 1999. Both doctors have since retired.

Dr. Stephen Ebersole joined the practice about 14 years ago, and Dr. Abigail Heroth just came on board in August.

 Under the pandemic guidelines, “We screen everyone with questions, as well as the temperature screen before they enter. We also do a lot more cleaning. We’re cleaning the rooms thoroughly – cleaning everything the patient touches when they visit. Even the pens they use to sign in are immediately put in a bin to be sterilized.”

Bobbi Lin, an optometric assistant at Optometric Associates, selects contact lenses for a patient. (Tsukroff photo)

The practice has an optical center where patients can purchase glasses, and “When someone tries on glasses, they’re kept aside and then they’re sterilized before they’re put out again,” Henry said. Everything a patient touches during a visit is wiped down with sterilizer.

“My staff is seeing about the same number of patients a day as we did before (the COVID-19 restrictions), but they’re working a lot harder,” he said. Staff members at the practice guide patients on social distancing needs, as well as sterilizing items and rooms throughout the day.

Even in the optical center, which is an open area at the front of the practice, “We’ve maintained social distancing. There’s only so many visitors allowed at a time,” Henry said. And there is “lots of wiping down everything.”

Many of the patients at the practice are older, he said, so these precautions are important for their safety, along with the safety of staff members. “We have staff that are in high-risk groups, that are older, that have physical conditions.”

“It’s even tougher for our employees that are parents, because now they’ve got to deal with possible exposures at their children’s school, and they’ve got to worry about bringing that into the office,” Henry said. “So there’s a lot of guidelines to follow!”

Remote schooling means some staff members with children have not been able to work the same hours as in the past, which adds another layer of complexity to running the practice during the pandemic. Because a staff member might need to stay home, “We don’t always have a full staff,” Henry said. Some parents have had to quarantine with a child who was exposed to a classmate diagnosed with COVID-19.

 “We’ve been trying to make work hours more flexible when we can.       but we’ve had to deal with a lot of short-staffing issues, like a lot of other businesses, too, especially the healthcare,” he said. That’s another reason staff members “have been working harder, too – to cover for each other.”

The practice was shut down completely for about seven weeks in the spring, then opened back up “at a trickle,” with only five people at a time visiting the building the first month, Henry said. That was a difficult requirement to meet at times, since patients sometimes needed to bring a family member.

“I’m very proud of my staff, and I’m proud to say that patients have sometimes said this is the first public place they’ve been to since self-quarantining, and that they felt safe,” He said. “Or, they’ve said this the first place they’ve actually felt safe in public, because we’re being so careful.”

Patients arriving at the practice can come to the entrance of the building where they are greeted by a staff member and invited into the vestibule for screening. A touchless thermometer is used to read forehead temperatures, and patients are asked about their personal health and any exposure to someone with COVID-19, before being allowed to enter the practice.

The practice has been here in Lewiston about 65 years beginning in the mid-1950’s under Dr. Sam Alpern. Dr.  Bournakel joined as an associate of Dr. Alpern, then brought in Dr. Beale about 46 years ago.

The practice built and moved into its current quarters in the mid-1970’s.

Dr. Henry began practicing with an emphasis on contact lenses, glaucoma, ocular disease, and primary care. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Illinois and earned his Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. As a neuroscientist, he authored 15 research articles and book chapters, and earned several teaching awards.

Dr. Ebersole graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor of arts degree in biology, then earned his doctorate of optometry at Ohio State University. He went on to complete a residency program centered on the diagnosis and management of common ocular diseases. such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. He served on the Maine Optometric Associations Board of Directors where he was instrumental in bringing the InfantSEE® program to Maine. The InfantSEE® program is a public health program developed to provide professional eye care for infants nationwide.

Dr. Heroth, earned her doctorate of optometry from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, graduating with honors in the spring of 2019. She spent the next year in a post-doctoral residency focused on ocular disease and primary care while working in the Togus VA Medical center in both Augusta and Bangor.. She had previously earned a bachelor of arts in Biotechnology and Molecular Biology at Assumption College in Worcerster, MA.

Abigail Heroth, O.D., works from behind a Plexiglas shield during an eye exam for one of her patients at Optometric Associates on East Avenue in Lewiston. The practice sanitizes surfaces after every patient, and provides other protective barriers wherever possible to ensure the safety of patients and staff during the pandemic. Dr. Heroth joined the practice in August. (Tsukroff photo)

Dr. Henry sees the practice expanding in the future with the need for eye care in the central Maine area, although he said that “times are uncertain these days” and adding additional doctors will be balanced against the flow of patients allowed under pandemic restrictions.

Optometric Associates provides a unique service for patients with dry eye, a chronic condition in which the body does not produce enough tears, or poor quality tears that don’t sufficiently lubricate the eye.

In addition to providing traditional treatments for dry eye – such as eye drops, prescription medicines, and At-home treatments like a Bruder mask, or lid therapies like Hypochlor and Avenova – the practice provides a treatment called Lipiflow. This treatment provides precise thermal pulsation to the meibomian tear glands to enhance tear quality and ocular discomfort. It combines heat with physical massage to liquefy and express the meibomian gland contents in an effort to return the lipid layer of the ocular surface to normal condition.

The three doctors at the practice are optometrists, eye doctors that can examine, diagnose, and treat eyes. If a patient needs surgery, they will be referred to an ophthalmologist, who is a medical doctor that performs perform medical and surgical interventions for eye conditions.

The practice also has a staff of opticians, who are professionals that help fit eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other vision-correcting devices.

Door to door holiday celebration

Out and About

By Rachel Morin

The Tenants of Schooner Estates Senior Living Community in Auburn were treated to a traveling Door to Door Holiday Celebration this past week.

Schooner Estates, as always, hits a problem head on and comes up with a solution. The worldwide Pandemic was no different. Schooner found a way, safe and practical.

(Something had to replace the large Christmas Party gatherings for all tenants in the Tenants’ Harbor Room in past years!)

Jackie Taylor and Sally Plummer, Schooner staff, are first in line with scallops wrapped in maple bacon. (Morin photo)

The traveling Door to Door Holiday Celebration took off like a flash. All hands were on deck at Schooner to send wave after wave of deliciously prepared holiday appetizers, food, delicacies and drinks to the apartment door of every tenant in his or her home.

Staff, decked out in holiday attire, pushed lighted carts laden with jumbo shrimp, cocktail sauce, savory sauced meatballs, scallops wrapped in maple bacon, lobster salad, Brioche bread, specialty chicken salad sliders, prosciutto and gruyere grilled triangled finger sandwiches, along with eggnog mixed with holiday cheer and a wide assortment of desserts and petit fours, to every apartment door at Schooner Estates.

All the Center for Disease Control protocols and guidelines for Covid-19 virus and recommendations were in place.

Tenants wearing masks were ready at their open doors to greet the staff, also wearing masks and gloves, who requested the tenant point to a selection they wanted.

Nancy Hurd, a tenant at Schooner Estates, selects the scallops for her choice from staff members Jackie Taylor and Sally Plummer. (Morin photo)

The server placed the item on a holiday plate, with holiday napkin, and handed it to the tenant who brought it into his/her apartment.

After the assortment of different foods were served came the dessert menu, and then the drinks selections. This procedure was done, time after time, on all floors. in all buildings. Elevators were busy and everything was done in record time.

With the transmission of the COVID-19 virus so prevalent across the U.S. and in Maine, the Staff took extra caution to minimize the time spent at each apartment door and not linger for conversation.

Every apartment was tuned in to Schooner’s own channel 1390 for a beautiful screen filled with a roaring fire in the fireplace. Traditional Christmas music could be heard throughout the buildings. Jolly old Saint Nicholas himself made the rounds to every apartment to drop off the annual Christmas gifts.

Skip Estes and Molly Elliot, Schooner staff, play Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. (Morin photo)

The Door to Door Holiday Celebration was well received by all. The evening ended merrily. Tenants could be overheard on the telephones with their families giving them a happy play by play of what was happening.

Who knows, this may very well be the new Christmas Tradition!

Virtual “Lighting Up Lewiston”

From City of Lewiston

LEWISTON – The City of Lewiston and the Lewiston Lighting Committee have launched the virtual celebration  ceremony, “Lighting Up Lewiston.” 

The lighting project began as a grassroots effort by local business owners who were interested in increasing holiday lighting in Lewiston. Through their diligent work, the Lewiston Lighting Committee was established to continue these efforts in partnership with City of Lewiston staff and the Downtown Lewiston Association.  

For 2020, donations to purchase and install globes were made in recognition of an anniversary, in tribute to someone; in memoriam, or for the love of community. Each year going forward, a designated area of Lewiston is envisioned to come alive with new multi-size globes and other lighting, creating an enhanced and growing festive presence.

Thanks to community generosity in 2020, a total of 53 globes were placed in Dufresne Plaza, Lisbon Street, as well as increased lighting added to the Southern Gateway entrance into Lewiston, adding even more warmth and vibrancy to the downtown area.

The virtual ceremony with various announcements and video contributions can be viewed at:

A particularly informative aspect of the virtual celebration is a piece from Carmen Dufresne.  In 2012, the plaza was named after her father, Chief Justice Armand A. Dufresne, and she provides a very insightful oral history of her parents’ lives in Lewiston. 

To visit the tribute page for this project, which includes the names of those being celebrated and by whom, please visit

The City of Lewiston thanked Lewiston Public Works crews who were instrumental in installing the globes.

Christmas Kitten Commercial turns 40

From BSB

BANGOR – If you grew up in Maine, the iconic Bangor Savings Bank commercial featuring two playful kittens is a beloved part of your holiday memories.

Waylon and Willie scurry under the Christmas tree, swat their paws at ornaments, tear open gift-wrapping paper, and lap up the milk they spilt – all while a musical medley plays that has become embedded in our collective consciousness. 

While every advertisement has a shelf life, the Christmas Kittens are truly the exception, standing the test of time with an annual airing every holiday season since its debut in 1980. For many, the Christmas season didn’t begin until this 60-second image ad – meant to evoke an emotion rather than sell a product – had hit the airwaves. Forty years later, it’s still going strong with some fans asking as early as August: When will the kittens ad begin playing?  

To mark the commercial’s 40th anniversary, Bangor Savings Bank released a video that talks about the history of the ad, and is making a major donation to local animal shelters.

The video at peeks behind the curtain of one of the most iconic TV ads the region has ever seen.

Featured in the video are Phil Cormier, a TV commercial editor who worked on the ad; The Nite Show’s Danny Cashman, who parodied the commercial; and comments about the ad from Bangor Savings Bank employees.

The ad includes trivia, such as the names of the kittens (Waylon and Willie), that it took four times as long to shoot the commercial because Waylon and Willie kept falling asleep, and that the “meow” at the commercial’s end didn’t come from a cat – but from a studio employee 

Bangor Savings Bank is donating $10,000 to animal shelters in Maine and New Hampshire. The shelters will be chosen by an online vote that runs until midnight, Dec. 31.  Voters can submit their choice at the video website at

Auburn Reverse Parade of Lights

From City of Auburn

AUBURN – Instead of the traditional Twin Cities Parade for the Christmas Holiday, Auburn hosted a “Reverse Parade of Lights” this year.

Families and businesses decorated their homes and buildings to celebrate the season.

The City of Auburn published a map on its Home for the Holidays website page at and invited everyone to drive by and view the decorations.

Cumberland County designated ‘yellow’

From Maine DOE

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education announced last week that the Mills Administration designated Cumberland County as “yellow” due to increased case rates and positivity rates.

This was done in the weekly update to the administration’s color-coded Health Advisory System that classifies counties’ relative risk of COVID-19 transmission to assist schools as they continue with their plans to deliver instruction and support to students safely.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) continue to review evidence that indicates lower transmission of COVID-19 in schools compared to the general population. Over the last 30 days, the rate of new cases is 25.2 per 100,000 staff and students, compared to 62.5 per 100,000 people statewide. This lower rate of new cases in schools is consistent with previous weeks.

 DHHS and Maine CDC assessed COVID-19 data and trends for all counties. Based on this assessment, the following designations have been determined:

REMAIN YELLOW: Androscoggin, Oxford and York counties have rising positivity rates, exceeding the statewide average.

NOW YELLOW:  Cumberland County experienced an increase in both the new case rate per 10,000 people and positivity rate.

All other counties remain in the green designation.

Under the “yellow” designation, which indicates an increased (moderate) level of community risk, schools may consider additional precautions, such as limiting numbers of people in school buildings at the same time, suspending extracurricular or co-curricular activities including competitions between schools, limiting interaction through cohorting, or other measures based on the unique needs of each school community.

These designations are made out of an abundance of caution and for the consideration of school administrative units in their decisions to deliver instruction.

It is essential that school districts across the State of Maine continue to implement plans that adhere to the six requirements for returning to in-person instruction, regardless of their county’s designation.

The Health Advisory System categorizations are defined as follows:

RED: Categorization as “red” suggests that the county has a high risk of COVID-19 spread and that in-person instruction?is not advisable.

YELLOW: Categorization as “yellow” suggests that that the county has an elevated risk of COVID-19 spread and that schools may consider additional precautions and/or hybrid instructional models to reduce the number of people in schools and classrooms at any one time.

GREEN: Categorization as “green” suggests that the county has a relatively low risk of COVID-19 spread and that schools may consider in-person instruction, as long as they are able to implement the required health and safety measures.  Schools in a “green” county may need to use hybrid instruction models if there is insufficient capacity or other factors (facilities, staffing, geography/transportation, etc.) that may prevent full implementation of the health and safety requirements.

The county-level assessments are based on both quantitative and qualitative data, including but not limited to recent case rates, positivity rates, and syndromic data (e.g., symptoms of influenza or COVID-19). Those data are publicly posted every week on the Maine CDC website. DHHS and Maine CDC also consider qualitative factors, such as the presence of outbreaks that may potentially affect school-age children.

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