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This week’s edition!

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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The Public Theatre’s auction ends Sunday

From Public Theatre

LEWISTON – The annual spring auction for The Public Theatre ends at midnight on Sunday.

The auction is virtual this year, and can be found on the theatre’s website at http://thepublictheatre.org.

Featuring gift certificates for all the wonderful things we love doing in Maine as well as handcrafted items you won’t find anywhere else, what better way to shop for useful and unique gifts while simultaneously supporting the theatre.

Items in the annual spring auction for The Public Theatre, which is virtual this year and ends at midnight on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of The Public Theatre)

Looking for a private singing lesson with a Broadway singer? A winter weekend at Sugarloaf?  A beautiful painting? A unique piece of jewelry from J. Dostie? A gift certificate to a local brewery?  A birdbath? A Vacuum Cleaner? A gift certificate to a favorite restaurant? You will find a wonderful assortment of items in this fun fundraiser for The Public Theatre.

The pandemic has devastated live performances, making our fundraising events more important than ever. Bidding online is an ultimate win-win for yourself and The Public Theatre.

Winners will be notified and given the location to pick up their winning items. Details on bidding procedures and a link to the auction can be found at http://thepublicltheatre.org

Art in the Windows in Lewiston

From LA Arts

LEWISTON – LA Arts and community partners bring a lively Art in the Windows program to downtown Lewiston this spring, with new work now on view at a number of locations along Lisbon Street.

Echoes and Loops, New Paintings by Kate Cargile will be on view in the LA Arts Gallery windows at 221 Lisbon Street in Lewiston through July 1. Kate is a middle school art teacher whose artwork is shaped by her strong interests in literature, history, and visual culture studies. She works in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, printmaking, appliqué quilting, and paper mache sculpture.

Maine native artist Jim Nutting holds a recent abstract art glass work. Works by artists are on display in the windows of businesses in downtown Lewiston as of the Art in the Windows program from LA Arts. (Photo courtesy of LA Arts)

Her subject matter ranges from “the beauty of the people, objects and places that make up my everyday life to fanciful ideas from myths, legends, tales and my own wild imagination,” she said. “The artistic process is like trying to tune an old radio. There are many different stations and frequent static. When you get a clear station it’s always best to listen intently to what is playing.”

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Auburn library fundraiser

AUBURN – Auburn Public Library is thrilled to announce the 2021 fundraiser, “Book Around Town: Linking Library with Local Business”.

Support APL and our local economy by purchasing a swag bag with over $200 in value for just $75!

Each bag is filled with discount coupons to local businesses, shops, and restaurants, in addition to handmade items from local favorites.

Bags are on sale June 1 to 15 on the library website, www.auburnpubliclibrary.org.

Limited supply! 

Kaydenz Resale Closet opens with Ribbon Cutting

From LA Metro Cham­ber

LEWISTON – Lew­iston Mayor Mark Cayer was joined by Karen Sta­ples from Senator Susan Collins Office, and Stepha­nie Gelinas, Ward 7 Lewis­ton City Councilor, at a rib­bon-cutting ceremony last week for the new Kaydenz Retail Closet.

Located at 155 Lis­bon Street in Lewiston, Kaydenz Resale Closet helps support the Kaydenz Kitchen Food Pantry at 550 Lisbon Street.

The elected officials were also joined by the Lewiston Auburn Metro­politan Chamber of Com­merce team, and Kayden’s friends and family, at the ceremony.

“Today I want to rec­ognize Kayden’s entrepre­neurial spirit. It’s not just a dream that started the food pantry down the street in the mill, it’s the way she saw that dream forward. It’s her vision, her heart, her energy, and her excite­ment that bring life, color, artwork, and retail to Lis­bon Street. Thank you for being a leader for every one of your peers in 7th grade, and beyond. You’re amazing.” said Shanna Cox, President and CEO of the LA Metro Chamber.

Kaydenz Resale Closet opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week. The new business at 155 Lisbon Street in Lewiston will support it’s sister facility, Kaydenz Kitchen Food Pan­try at 550 Lisbon Street. (photo courtesy of LA Metro Chamber)

Mayor Cayer said that “When you have a good thing in place, creativity often continues in won­derful ways as evidenced here today. It’s also im­portant to note that it was the 2017 vision of a young girl, Kayden Boilard, that jump-started her family’s contributions to our com­munity. Families facing food insecurity and cloth­ing needs have certainly benefited ever since.”

Opening up Kaydenz Resale Closet in the Hart­ley Block has brought food, clothing, and other essential resources closer to those in need.

“Kaydenz Kitchen Food Pantry is extremely excited about expanding into a second location in the downtown commu­nity. All proceeds from Kaydenz Resale Closet benefit our 501(C)3 non­profit mission and our con­tinued expansion of ser­vices and programs for the Lewiston-Auburn commu­nity,” said Kevin Boilard, President.

An organization of community-minded busi­nesses that serves Lewiston, Auburn, and surrounding communities, the Lewis­ton Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is an engine for economic vi­tality and enhanced quality of life. Through issues ad­vocacy, workforce devel­opment, and professional networking, the LA Metro Chamber helps business and community build, lead, and thrive. Learn more at lametrochamber.com.

Mission Working Dogs visit the Colisee

By Nathan Tsukroff

LEWISTON – Mission Working Dogs was on a fundraising mission last Friday night at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, with more than eight dogs and handlers greeting hockey fans at the entrance.

About a year ago, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began, Christy Gardner of Lewiston founded Mission Working Dogs to train service dogs to help people in the community with disabilities.

Roslyn Keith of Lewiston takes a few minutes to visit with Grace, a therapy dog being trained by Lewiston chiropractor Dr. Phil McLean and his wife, Amy, before the hockey game at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Friday night. Therapy and service dogs being trained with Mission Working Dogs greeted fans at the entrance to the Colisee as part of a fund-raising event for the group. (Tsukroff photo)

A therapy dog provides psychological or physiological therapy to individuals other than their handler, while “a service dog is trained to help mitigate the individual disabilities of one person. So, if you were missing a leg, or you were blind, or you were diabetic, that dog is trained specifically for you,” she said. “And they can all be trained differently, because everybody’s disability may be different.”

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