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This week’s edition!

Governor Mills: We all have a responsibility to support one another even as we stay apart

Like you, I certainly want life to return to normal as soon as it is safe to do so. My heart breaks to see the closed storefronts and to see so many people struggling to make ends meet because of this crisis.

At the same time, we all know that reopening too soon and too aggressively could very well cause a surge in COVID-19 cases, causing people to die and further rocking our economy. None of us wants that.

As the President acknowledged this week, Governors are in charge of reopening our states’ economies, gradually lifting public health restrictions. Here in Maine, we are planning a phased-in reopening, tailored to the demographics and the economic sectors of our state.

Ultimately, the protocols we adopt, after consulting with people from all parts of the state, will be guided by fact, science and public health guidance.

As the President’s guidelines note, widespread testing, personal protective equipment, and contact tracing are all critical to lifting the restrictions and reviving our economy; for that reason, the nation’s governors this week again urged the Federal government to make sure that all our states have these vital resources.

I also remain in touch with Governor Sununu of New Hampshire and Governor Scott of Vermont and we talk about things that we can do together appropriate for our northern New England region.

My Administration, through the Department of Economic and Community Development, has been talking with people from various economic sectors across the state to evaluate how and when each of these sectors may reopen. Those decisions, of course, will be driven first and foremost by public health.

In the meantime, I ask you again to continue to stay the course. Stay home to save lives.

Of course, to stay home, you need to have a home. That’s why last week I issued an Executive Order that limits evictions during this state of emergency. This Order applies to commercial tenants, small businesses, as well as residences.

And, with respect to rent, MaineHousing and I created a temporary rental assistance program for Maine people who can’t pay their rent due to COVID-19.

The program is up and running now and you can find more information about that at www.mainehousing.org/covidrent.

I also wrote to all the financial institutions last week urging them to negotiate with homeowners who are struggling to pay the mortgage because of COVID-19.

Homes are more than brick and beams and mortar. Home is where my husband and I raised five girls. It’s where we sat at the kitchen table, helping with homework, paying bills. Where we slept safely each night.

For some Maine people though, homes are not sanctuaries. In one recent survey of people who called the domestic violence hotline, 70 percent said that the pandemic had impacted their safety.

So, stay at home orders, while they are necessary to stop the spread of the virus, can leave victims and survivors of abuse cut off from friends, family and others whom they rely on for help, further empowering their abusers.

I want to be clear—while the courts are closed for many proceedings, you can still get a protection from abuse order; and clerks, attorneys, police officers and others are standing by to connect you with support and services you need to stay safe. Even hotels that are closed to most people remain open for people escaping abuse.

I ask all employers to check in on your employees who are now working from home, and I ask all friends and family members to connect with loved ones to ensure that they are safe.

If you need help, please call 1-866-834-4357, any time, 24 hours a day. Domestic violence shelters are also there for you if you need to find safety.

We all have a responsibility to support one another even as we stay apart.

God bless you and keep you safe. God bless the State of Maine during this difficult time.

LA Metro Chamber: The Healing Community Food Challenge

The Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is partnering with The Healing Community MEDCo for The Healing Community Food Challenge, making it easy for businesses and individuals to provide $100 a week in grocery gift cards to families whose income has been reduced from COVID-19. This new challenge was inspired by the success and response of area businesses and individuals who earlier this week sponsored the purchase of 5 laptops in 2 days. The laptops will be on loan to adult learners shifting to distance learning for a construction cohort- a partnership with Lewiston Adult Ed, WMCA, and Community Concepts. The laptops will continue to be a tech resource for future learners in the program. 

The LA Metro Chamber has shifted its operations in an effort to provide support for the community and businesses. In addition to community-centered responses, the Chamber has swiftly shifted to providing webinars available not only to members, but other businesses in need. These webinars include speakers from member attorneys and professionals who can help others work through challenges in virtual work, the changes to general business law, and the changes to employment law. In response to growing concerns and questions about shifts in federal regulations, the Chamber hosted two listening sessions with Congressman Jared Golden.

“As a Chamber, we have been working to anticipate and provide emergent and vital content to our members through virtual methods to help address businesses’ pressing needs” said Shanna Cox, President + CEO. “While we continue to offer Certificates of Origin by appointment, our team has really shifted how they work and what they prioritize to address the fluid needs of business and community.”

Quickly on the heels of stay at home recommendations and changes in business operations, the Chamber pulled together an online community resource–LAadapts.com. This website features a business directory, community resources, business resources, and access to webinars from the Chamber—all available free and to the public. 

“The purpose of #LAadapts is to provide quick and easy access for our community and businesses. Our hope is to be able to share and access information quickly that is curated to challenges the community is experiencing today” shared Sam Chamberlain, #LAadapts project manager, and a Chamber team member.

Amid the current crisis, the Chamber has worked to adapt and shift to the needs of the community and area businesses, working closely with business members to address individual needs, share communications, and bridge partnerships with other members.

“We are working in tandem with our members and other partners to develop tools, resources, and share information in the best possible fashion to support our businesses and community” said Cox.

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. (lametrochamber.com)

Thanking essential workers in our community

Walgreens, 430 Sabattus Street, Lewiston.

By Kayt Myers

I don’t know about you, but I have been trying to think of ways to practice shelter in place and social distancing but also taking the time and effort to thank those essential workers in our community. It’s not easy but I think it’s an effort worthwhile. 

Here are some ideas:

Send cards, letters, or posters to essential community organizations and stores which they can post in the break rooms for employees to see.

Post a thank you message to social media and tag your favorite local stores and services that remain serving the community.

Know of an essential worker in your neighborhood? Post a yard sign personally thanking them. They will see it when they drive by to work and feel appreciated.

If you have a friend or family member that is an essential worker, call them up or video chat. Be sure to tell them how much you appreciate their efforts.

I know when I think about the essential workers in our communities, I want to find as many ways as I can to say thank you. Macaroni Kid National recently partnered with Walgreens to do just that. Walgreens knows just how hard their employees are working and what better way to recognize their efforts than to call on Macaroni Kid’s local publisher moms? 

We were thrilled to help! Walgreens has locations throughout our communities!

My Walgreens is located on Sabattus Street in Lewiston. I’ve been so grateful that they have not only stayed open to serve the community, but always have the friendliest associates and knowledgeable pharmacy staff. Walgreens is well stocked with the essentials my family needs and offers an easy way to pick up prescription meds.

A huge shout out to the Walgreens team—from the warehouse personnel for making sure stores are stocked—to the cashiers and store associates who are there to help—to the pharmacists for making prescription pick up easy and accessible—my whole family thanks you. 

While I really want to give each and every essential worker a big hug, I know I cannot do that right now. Instead, our family will be sending these hugs by mail today to our friends at Walgreens in Lewiston and Auburn—with our many, heartfelt thanks.

Out & About with Rachel Morin: Spring, spring, glorious spring!

Tulips blossomed shortly after my touring the neighborhood.

In light of our efforts to flatten the curve and keep our social distance, I have found myself watching for the coming of spring from various windows of my home.  This is not the way I like to welcome spring.  It brought to mind an essay I wrote a few years ago that seems especially poignant now as we are all so shut in and closed off.  I thought it was appropriate to share it again…

I woke up this morning and looked out my windows to see the huge mounds of winter-weary snow burying my back yard all winter, had “magically” disappeared overnight!   

Left in its wake are my 18 perennial flower beds in their brown/gray winter colors with accumulated winter debris—soft drink cans and candy wrappers dropped by careless walkers going by.  Scattered, colorful plant markers, showing where new growth will soon appear, offering signs of hope.  

 I see greenery emerging.  Green stems spring from daffodils and tulips.  Are those red stems from the graceful Bleeding Hearts?   On closer inspection, I see three Bleeding Hearts bursting through the soil.  

Multiple broken tree limbs lay willy-nilly across the back yard.   Thankfully, I see the wooden rustic fence bordering my property is still standing upright.     

Spring Season is here, a life giving, affirmation of rebirth in my perennial gardens.  I look forward to this season every year. I am impatient to get busy and prepare for the growing season. 

The harsh winter is over.  The memory of our three Nor’easters with the record accumulations of snow and the fierce winds adding to the high snow drifts is long gone.   Time to move on!

I walk the neighborhood eager to see more signs of spring.  There is winter tree damage for sure. Signs of neglect are uncovered by the melting snow.    Little boys now see what became of their red, blue and green trucks overlooked in the fall clean-up.  Are those Emma’s pretty red mittens forgotten on the picnic bench?  

Folks, clad in brightly colored spring-weather jackets, are out, rakes in gloved hands, cleaning out the brown, wrinkly leaves caught in shrubbery.  Others have push-brooms and are sweeping out driveways.  Everyone calls a glorious greeting about spring being finally here.  I move right along, echoing their greetings, but eager to return home to assess my own situation.  

Remembering my feverish attack on cleaning out my perennial beds two years ago, I reinforce my decision to pace myself and do “a little each day.”  The bursitis in both hips from that endeavor is still being treated with pool therapy.  My daily walks are a must to keep limber and mobile.

This does not diminish my love of gardening which I learned from my mother in my pre-teen years, watching her plant purple, yellow and lavender pansies.  Who knew, growing up, that I would delight in getting down on my knees and relish the feel and smell of the earth in my bare hands? 

And my husband, in our early married years, reinforced this pleasurable pastime as I watched him plant tulip bulbs in our side yard and create his masterpiece vegetable garden in the backyard.    

Moving to our new home 20 years later, the gardening of vegetables and berries became his project and mine, the perennial flowers.  This was a happy time we shared.

I am known as The Flower Lady in the neighborhood.  My family, friends, neighbors and shut-ins enjoy receiving the colorful bouquets I bring them.  This is my favorite part of gardening:  the joy of sharing flowers with everyone.  I even have requests when special occasions arise. 

I took a poetry class at USM Lewiston Auburn Senior College a few years ago.   Our assignment was to write an original poem every week.   Trying to come up with an article for this week, my spring poem was the inspiration for the springtime theme.  With apologies to our Wesley McNair, Maine’s Poet Lauriat 2011-2016.

Spring, 4-14-17, Spring is here!/I burst outside,/Closed in too long./I walk the neighborhood/To see what I can see./Melting snow reveals/Winter’s damaged trees./But look, perennial beds/Show green shoots rising./Daffodil and tulip stems/March boldly across beds.

Seniors Not Acting Their Age: The Cathance River Ice Breaker

Paddlers navigate around the ice on the Cathance

From Interstate 295, the Cathance River in Topsham appears to be a docile, meandering coastal stream.  Hidden from view in a remote area are about two miles of cataracts and exciting whitewater rapids.  

More than three decades ago, the whitewater community “discovered” this little paddling gem.  For years, challenging the Cathance has been a rite of spring for my outdoor club, the Penobscot Paddle and Chowder Society.  The American Whitewater Association describes it as a Class III/IV creek with two Class V waterfalls.  Unlike most of the outstanding creek runs in Maine, the Cathance is close by.  

Proximity and stimulating rapids are not the only benefits of the Cathance. A moderately large watershed for a small river, water levels tend to remain high longer than most similar-sized streams.  The Cat is usually one of the first to experience ice out in the spring. 

In March, I usually start reconnoitering the Cathance to determine when it’s ice-free.  Distracted by the coronavirus news, I was delinquent this year.  My youngest son Adam, who recently moved back to the area, assumed my Cathance monitoring duties announcing ice was out and the water level high.  Yet another geriatric revelation, when your youngest child has reached middle age, you’re wicked old.

We decided to paddle the Cat the following day and publicized the excursion as a club trip. As predictable as the sun rising in the east, three members signed on despite the short notice.  In keeping with tradition, the first spring trip is designated the ice breaker.  Our group consisted of two kayaks, a canoe, and a father-son team in an inflatable boat called a shredder. 

Meeting at the takeout, Head of Tide Park on the Cathance Road in Topsham, it was a cool, breezy sunny day.  This year, we have a new challenge, preventing the spread of coronavirus.  Social distancing is not an obstacle on the river, but the shuttle is more problematic.  The predicament was addressed separating people by six feet and driving with the windows open.  The coldest part of the day was the shuttle to the Topsham boat landing on Old Augusta Road.

A painted gauge on the I295 bridge abutment indicated the level was 2.6, a medium volume.  Although Adam had verified all rapids were clear, a decision was made to scout everything and set up safety if necessary.  

Following a mile of flat water, two easy Class II rapids were negotiated in a narrow gorge.  Just beyond, long technical Z Turn was scouted and successfully navigated.  Around the bend, a cataract called Second Drop was encountered.  Midway through, it takes an abrupt left turn causing a foam pile to build on the right above a narrow twisting passage.  A notorious boat flipper, everyone mastered the maneuver.

Steeper and potentially more hazardous, Third Drop was next.  Most of the current tumbles left over a ledge pitch and then flows beneath an undercut rock forming a cul de sac called Room of Doom.   The required technique is to power through the waves angled right and plunge down a precipitous tongue as far from doom as possible.  The hard boats accomplished the precarious nosedive.  Experiencing misgivings, Team Shredder walked.

Intimidating Boulder Pile waited around the next turn.  So named because of a seemingly impenetrable mass of boulders located at the bottom of a steep slide, there are two navigable choices; descend hard left through an attenuated slot between two large rounded rocks at the terminus or perfect a ninety degree right turn at the end of the slide while paddling aggressively to avoid flushing sideways into the boulders.  The narrow kayaks easily negotiated the elusive left route while the larger boats successfully turned right. 

Class V Little Gorilla was next.  Since threatening ice shelves extended into the main channel, the unanimous decision was to portage. 

Final Drop provided the most entertainment.  An extended complex approach ends with a consequential slide into a very menacing hole.  The kayaks skirted right while the big boats powered through the keeper.  Team shredder daringly decided to side surf the churning monster.  At first, they had fun.  Then not so much, but couldn’t get out.  Asked if they needed a throw bag, “yes,” was the unambiguous answer.  Several minutes were required to pull them out using two bags.  

Breaking through a short section of ice during the flat water finish, the Cat truly was the ice breaker.   The club subsequently cancelled all trips until further notice.Author of “The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery” and “Mountains for Mortals – New England,” Ron Chase resides in Topsham.  Visit his website at www.ronchaseoutdoors.com or he can be reached at ronchaseoutdoors@comcast.net.

Green Ladle hopes to continue meal work

Volunteers load up vehicles for deliveries before heading out on Thursday

Even though the Green Ladle has had a meal-making streak, Chef Dan Caron hopes students and adult volunteers can continue as long as they are needed.

But as of last Thursday, the Lewiston Regional Technical Center’s (LRTC) culinary program has enough supplies for meals for retirees and veterans to get them through the end of this week. It began last month to help people staying at home to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

They started with 80 meals. By last Thursday, they had expanded to 380, Caron said. 

“We don’t have it in us to stop,” he said.

Caron is working with the Meals on Wheels program run through Seniors Plus because people cannot receive food from both delivery programs.

Volunteers Sue Russell and Maureen Caron made sure hundreds of paper bags had all the parts of lunch in them on Thursday morning.

A row of LRTC teachers prepared meals in the kitchen wearing masks and gloves. Paul Kennedy spread mayonnaise on wraps. Jessica Douin was at the end of the production line at another table wrapping them in plastic. 

The Green Ladle’s dining room had most tables covered with paper bags for deliveries or cleaning supplies and disposable gloves. Sisters and fellow volunteers Sue Russell and Maureen Caron made sure each bag had a small butter pat in them.

“People are stepping up. It’s nice to see people who care,” Maureen Caron said.

Jessica Douin prepares wraps in the Green Ladle kitchen on Thursday.

In addition to people dropping off contributions at the Green Ladle, Modern Woodmen of American and Androscoggin Bank have helped in an effort that Chef Caron says costs about $1,000 a day.  

Thursday’s lunch consisted of a turkey wrap, potato chips, a roll with butter and a cookie.

Local businesses have made donations of food to help with expenses. They included DaVinci’s restaurant, the Chick-a-Dee of Lewiston, Rolly’s Diner and Hurricane’s Premium Soup & Chowder. DaVinci’s also let Green Ladle staff use its van for deliveries.

Volunteers load up vehicles for deliveries before heading out on Thursday.

Retired LRTC teacher and nurse Cathy Liguori reviewed the importance of wearing masks and gloves with volunteers before they headed out with containers holding the bagged lunches. She reminded them that people may not have symptoms of COVID-19 but can spread the virus.

LRTC Principal Rob Callahan and Lewiston High School Principal Jake Langlais both put on masks before listening to Liguori’s advice. Lewiston High School teachers pitched in with deliveries, along with retirees such as Paul Sarrazin. Sarrazin, who used to work for UPS, helped with the planning of delivery routes to make them as efficient as possible.

The Green Ladle can be reached at 207-777-3199.

Lewiston volunteers help meal program

Katie Krantz works for the Store Next Door Project (also known as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Program) at Lewiston High School and is another volunteer.

Getting food during the middle of a pandemic turned out to be a polite experience at Longley School on Wednesday morning.

Families in cars to young children walking down Birch Street approached from the road. A person in a surgical mask got the count and shout back to coworkers handling trays of food sealed in plastic.

“Two please!” Aaron Louque said.

“Two! Thank you!” Katie Krantz said.

All the five adults helping at Longley School on Wednesday were Lewiston School Department employees. They wore surgical masks while loading up bags of food that were dropped off at a distant table.

The meals came from the Lewiston School Department’s nutrition program. School employees have volunteered to help out at distribution sites.

“We’re a well-oiled machine here,” Lewiston High School music teacher Erin Morrison said.

While the fight against the coronavirus in the United States has focused on numbers of cases, local work has involved other statistics. Alison Roman, director of transportation and nutrition for Lewiston Public Schools, said in an email that in 11 days, 60,016 meals were given to local families.

“Our first day was around 490 breakfasts and 490 lunches. Day 11 is closer to 3,000 breakfasts and 3,000 lunches district-wide,” she wrote. 

The volunteers at Longley School laughed as they worked. Morrison wore a surgical mask with a musical note on it Tuesday.

Roman had a long list of thank-yous to people who have helped with the meal-making effort. They included Lewiston nutrition department staff, Hudson Bus lines for driving food to sites, volunteers, the school department’s administrative team, the school committee, distributors included Oakhurst Dairy and Performance Food Group as well as the Walmart distribution center.

Shaw’s and Hannaford supermarkets have also donated thousands of bags, Krantz said.

Lewiston High School nurse Melissa “Missy” Gendron said she did have one concern during the work to keep everyone healthy and isolated. She has seen teens gathering together and thought they needed to spend more solo time on electronic devices.

“Phones. Xboxes. Do it up,” she said.Anyone with questions or in need of more information can go to the Lewiston Public School Department’s website,www.lewistonpublicschools.org, or send an email to aroman@lewistonpublicschools.org. Callers may also leave a voicemail at 207-795-4106, extension 4091.

Governor Mills: Stay healthy. Stay Home.

We are in the midst of one of the greatest public health crises this world has seen in more than a century.

This virus will continue to sicken people across our state and our country; our cases will grow, and unfortunately, more people will die.

I say this to be direct, to be as honest with you as I can and because saving lives depends on all of us.

Effective Thursday morning, April 2, until at least April 30, I have ordered all Maine people to stay at home. Leave only if you work in an essential business or to do an essential activity, such as getting groceries, or going to the pharmacy, or getting medical care, caring for a family member outside your home, or going for a walk, a run, a hike, fishing or walking a pet. But while you are out, you have to maintain six feet distance from other people other than immediate family or household members.

I have ordered people not to use public transportation unless it’s for an essential reason or for some job that cannot be done from home. For those who travel in their own vehicles, you must limit passengers to persons within your immediate household unless you are transporting someone for a medical or public health reason.

I have ordered essential stores that do remain open to limit the number of customers inside the store at any one time, to also adopt curb-side pickup and delivery options as much as possible, and to enforce the recommended physical distancing requirements for customers and staff in and around their facilities.

I have ordered the continued closure of schools for classroom and in-person instruction until at least May 1. Traveling to and from a school for purposes of receiving meals or instructional materials for distance learning is allowed.

While I cannot simply close the State’s border, or pull up the Maine-New Hampshire Bridge as some people have suggested, I have issued a new travel order, effective immediately, requiring that anyone entering Maine self-quarantine for 14 days at home and obey Maine’s Stay Healthy at Home Order.

There will be a few exceptions for essential travel, but basically, if you don’t need to come to Maine right now for an essential purpose, please don’t.

This is difficult on all of us, but if we pull together, we can and will defeat this virus. Maine is a welcoming state, and we do welcome the many servicemembers, Coast Guard folks and medical professionals and so many people who are here to help us. I ask Maine people not to make assumptions about others or their license plate, and we welcome the cooperation of other visitors and returning residents in quarantining themselves and keeping us all safe in accordance with my travel order. Let us treat all people in Maine with compassion and kindness. That is how we will get through this.

If we all do our part, you and your family can stay safe. And the sooner we all take all these measures, the sooner we can flatten that curve, avoid the surge, and be safe once again as a state.

So, do your part: Stay apart. If you love your neighbor, your family, if you love this state, as I do, please, don’t travel. Stay healthy. Stay home.

God bless you and yours and keep you all safe. And may God bless the State of Maine.

Middle Street closed to through traffic between Main St. and Oak St. Tuesday 4/7 and Wednesday 4/8

Per Lewiston’s Acting City Engineer Jeff Beaule, in order to install a sewer manhole on Middle St near Main St as part of the Oak/Blake/Middle St utility project begun last year, the one-way portion of Middle St will be closed to through traffic on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.  Traffic will be detoured to Park St.  A two-way lane will be coned off and signed for vehicles to enter/exit the Oak Park building parking garage from the Oak St end.  Parking lots for the Trolley Medical Bldg and Dingley Bldg can be accessed from Bates St.  Work on Middle St will continue for several weeks in order to install a temporary water main and replace the cast iron water main by pipebursting but a lane for traffic will remain open during that work.  The same process will take place on Blake St between Main St and Oak St during the same period.  

Greetings from Auburn and Lewiston Mayors

As the Mayors of the beautiful sister cities of Auburn and Lewiston, we want to share our thoughts on the Coronavirus pandemic. Our cities – and the people who live in Androscoggin County — are strong and resilient, and we assure you that, together, we will get through these uncertain times. 

It’s an unsettling time locally and nationally, however, we as people have not changed. The residents of Androscoggin County are people of perseverance, heart and determination, and we will come out on the other side of this challenge standing stronger than ever before. 

Every person in this county is important and deeply valued. However, in a time of isolation, it is natural to feel disconnected and perhaps even afraid. 

With increased precautions and social distancing as our new normal, what can we do to support ourselves and each other? We can stay in contact with each other through phone, text, video chat, email, and even good, old fashioned cards and letters. And when we do connect, making an effort to convey strength and comfort can make all the difference. Share encouraging words, pray for each other, communicate about your feelings, fears, and emotions during this time, and remember to share CDC safety precautions with loved ones of all ages. 

As a symbol of the unity within all of Androscoggin County, we ask local churches and faith- based organizations to “sound their bells” at noon each day until this crisis is behind us. It is our hope that the sounds of the bells will serve as a meaningful reminder that we are not alone. 

We are navigating a “new normal” together, and although, we are not physically shoulder-to-shoulder, Androscoggin County residents have the heart, courage and strength to face our challenges, make safe choices, and demonstrate — albeit from a distance — kindness, compassion and mutual support for each other. 

We encourage faith-based organizations that don’t have an actual bell to ring to commit to some other activity at noon each day. It can be anything: a daily message on your FB page; a short video, encouraging people to keep faith; a daily noon-time email to parishioners; some small gesture to help build each other up through uplifting, positive, inspiring messages. 

So, let’s “sound the bells” to remind us all to have faith; faith in each other, in ourselves, and in our neighbors, leaders and communities. 

Mayor Jason J. Levesque, Mayor of Auburn

Mayor Mark A. Cayer, Mayor of Lewiston 


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