1. Wesley’s Tree Festival draws thousands, raises thousands at weekend event

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Lee Pellon Center was quiet on Monday morning, with sunlight streaming in on 55 empty tree boxes and dozens of undecorated Christmas trees waiting to be packed away by volunteers. But Friday, Saturday and Sunday were a different story altogether. 

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  2. Machias votes in favor of medical marijuana storefronts

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Unusually long lines of voters delayed the start of a town meeting held in Machias on Wednesday, Dec. 5. More than 100 Machias residents and 30 non-residents attended the meeting, held to discuss and vote on the town’s proposed medical marijuana ordinance. As is customary, the non-residents lined the bleachers of the Machias Memorial High School gymnasium, leaving a clear view to the Machias voters seated in rows of chairs down the middle of the room.

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  3. Tackling infrastructure gap a tough and growing challenge

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Many millions have been allotted to bring Maine’s transportation infrastructure up to par, but most of those voter-approved bonds have yet to be sold.

    Meanwhile, although Maine may have a debt obligation that’s low compared to other states, it can no longer ignore infrastructure goal lists that have barely moved over the last six years. As of 2017, the state was 70 percent toward its goal of making 1,400 miles of priority highway miles serviceable by 2022. 

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  4. EPA makes progress with Meddybemps Superfund site

     

    by Lura Jackson

    The EPA has issued an update on N’tolonapemk, also known as the Eastern Surplus Superfund site in Meddybemps. The site was used for a storage and salvage yard for decades before being declared an environmental Superfund site, meaning it had high levels of toxicity and was thus a high priority for the governmental organization to remediate. The process of environmental remediation has been successful and its end is in sight, depending on how well the most recent efforts are received by the land.

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  5. County committee approves budget with three deputies, cuts to governmental third parties

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The final meeting of the Washington County Budget Committee took place in Machias on Tuesday, Dec. 4 and the 10-member committee spent two hours in negotiations. Led by committee chairman Lewis Pinkham of Milbridge, the committee ultimately passed a budget that includes a near-zero increase of .1306 percent, but still includes the addition of three sheriff’s deputies. The budget will now return to the three county commissioners for their approval.

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  6. ‘Deck the Falls’ contest, telebusiness center dominate selectboard discussion

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Local businessman Bill Burke presented to the Machias Board of Selectmen at their bi-weekly meeting held Wednesday, Nov. 28. Burke is the owner of Pat’s Pizza and the founder of the Downeast Lobstah Drop, which will take place on New Year’s Eve for the fourth time.

    Burke said that this year the indoor kids’ activities will be held in the gymnasium of the Rose M. Gaffney Elementary School. Burke is also talking to law enforcement and hopes to bring a demonstration of drug dogs to the event.  

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  7. Jonesport has interim CEO, talks marijuana, allots charitable donations

    by Nancy Beal

    In addition to having been a founder and president of the Jonesport Historical Society, past-president of the Greenwood Cemetery Society, retired merchant mariner and local historian, Donald Woodward was Jonesport’s code enforcement officer before his tragic passing last month after a battle with cancer. Last week, Jonesport selectmen struck a deal with a long term fill-in for the code officer position.

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  8. Collaborative book launch leads to new Washington County publishing enterprise

     

    by Lura Jackson

    Local author and life coach Lanette Pottle is making new strides in putting Washington County on the map of personal empowerment with the publication of her newest book, Small Steps Big Impact. In the creation of the book, Pottle collaborated with two other Washington County women, Laurel Robinson and Ashley Hinson Dahkal, and simultaneously developed her own publishing enterprise: Positivity Lady Press.

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  9. Machias Planning Board approves MSB’s Main Street office building construction project in 4-1 vote

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Machias Planning Board approved a $4M construction project request from Machias Savings Bank at their regular meeting held Wednesday, Dec. 5.

    The bank’s construction will create a two-story office building with five parking spaces on the vacant Ford Garage lot located across from the Thirsty Moose and next to the Machias Hardware Co. building.  [See “MSB brings $4M expansion to Machias Planning Board,” MVNO Nov. 14, 2018.]

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  10. Blueberry commission gives tentative OK for subcommittee of small growers sought by Addison’s Marie Emerson; bill to enlarge commission in the works

     

    by Nancy Beal

    Marie and Dell Emerson have been involved with wild blueberries for decades. For nearly 50 years before his retirement, Dell ran the experimental farm on Blueberry Hill in Jonesboro. The couple owns a 40-acre farm of their own at Wescogus Corner in Addison and manages other growers’ fields and buys berries from still others. They furnish berries for the fresh pack market and, after the harvest in August, sell fresh-frozen berries in bulk from their home.

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  11. Machias votes in favor of medical marijuana

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Unusually long lines of voters delayed the start of a town meeting held in Machias on Wednesday. Dec. 5. More than 120 Machias residents and 30 non-residents attended the meeting, held to discuss and vote on the town’s proposed medical marijuana ordinance. As is customary the non-residents lined the bleachers of the Machias Memorial High School gymnasium, leaving a clear view to the Machias voters seated in rows of chairs down the middle of the room.

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  12. County committee approves budget to include three sheriff's deputies

     

     

    The final meeting of the Washington County Budget Committee took place in Machias on Tuesday, Dec. 4 and the 10-member committee spent two hours negotiating. Led by committee chairman Lewis Pinkham of Milbridge, the committee ultimately passed a budget that includes a near-zero increase of .1306 percent, but still includes the addition of three sheriff’s deputies.

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  13. ‘Royal Bulldogs’ turn Jonesport, Machias schools into one winning team

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    When students approached Cindy Moore-Rossi and asked her to coach their cross country running team, she wasn’t even a runner herself.

    “There were four kids that wanted to run and they were told the program would fold if they couldn’t come up with a coach,” she said. At the time Moore-Rossi was working at Machias Memorial High School as a special education ed tech.

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  14. Josh Kelley, Philip Kilton survive the sinking of their lobster boat 11 miles offshore

     

    by Nancy Beal

    The boat that sank out from under Beals lobsterman Josh Kelley and his sternman last month seven miles outside of Moosepeak Light was a 42-foot Novi-style boat that Kelley purchased in Lower Woods Hole, Nova Scotia in 2014. She was built by Stanley Greenwood, or “Chainsaw” Greenwood as he is familiarly known because he uses that tool for finish work.

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  15. Local talent fires up UMM women’s basketball

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    On their way to last week’s game, the University of Maine at Machias women’s basketball team anxiously awaited the latest USCAA power rankings. Coach Troy Alley had predicted their strong 6-2 record would land them in the national top 10, but when the rankings came out he heard they were actually number three. 

    Five minutes later he realized his mistake. “Ladies, we’re not third,” said Alley. They were crestfallen. “We’re first.” 

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  16. County committee on verge of completing controversial budget

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    After a hiatus due to weather events, the Washington County Budget Committee convened on Thursday, Nov. 29 for what could be its next-to-last meeting this year. The 2019 budget process has taken longer than usual owing to a debate over the proposed addition of three deputies to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. 

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  17. Moosabec teachers seek pay scale changes, negotiations ongoing since last winter

     

    by Nancy Beal

    Teachers in Union 103, the school unit that includes both elementary schools and the joint high school in Beals and Jonesport, are seeking a change in the 25-step pay scale under which the district has operated for years. Negotiations started last winter and, instead of lasting the usual couple of months and centering on the increase in pay and benefits, are snagged on a different issue which, teachers say, affect not just money, but their professionalism and the ability of the schools to attract and retain good teachers.

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  18. Firefighters save home in Pembroke after vehicle engulfed in flames

     

    by Lura Jackson

    A Pembroke family escaped major catastrophe this past week following a fire that began in a vehicle parked between their home and their shed with only a few feet on either side as a buffer. A seemingly spontaneous fire ignited the Lingleys’ 2005 Ford Explorer Sport Trac in the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 28, but firefighters contained the blaze before it could spread.

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  19. Medicaid expansion struggles amid sea of suits, strife

    By Ruth Leubecker 

    Health insurance for 70,000-plus Mainers may be the law of the land, but lawsuits and excessive legal postponements have prevented it from happening for over two years.

    The latest date for possible positive action is December 5.

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  20. School officials tell parents to throw away the yardsticks, they’re toxic

    by Rep. Lawrence E. Lockman

    Is it really “poisonous” for parents to compare student test scores in their local school district to test results in other districts across the state?

    I don’t think so. But then, I’m not a credentialed education professional with advanced degrees, earning $80K or $90K toiling in the government school monopoly swamp.

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  21. The Nature of Phenology: Muskrats

     

    by Hazel Stark 

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  22. Selectmen pass resolution on Route 1 burned property at emergency meeting in East Machias

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The East Machias Board of Selectmen held an emergency meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 27 to discuss the matter of a burned property located on Route 1. Deputy Code Enforcement Officer Brodie was also in attendance.

    Selectman Will Tuell read from a document drawn up by the town’s legal council, Bryan Dench of Skelton Taintor & Abbott.

    In it Dench states that because the property owner has not picked up certified mail and has been non-responsive, the town is within its rights to adopt a resolution.

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  23. Green Team nurtures plants, community

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Machias Green Team worked all summer weeding, planting and watering to beautify flower beds around Machias, but what they’re really hoping will blossom is a sense of hometown pride.

    “We care about creating a community spirit,” said committee co-chair Sandi Malagara. “We have so much good here in Machias. We want everybody to know what a wonderful place it is.”

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  24. A heady mix of new and old will greet 129th Legislature on opening day

    by Ruth Leubecker

    New decisions and old issues will mix this time around with new and returning legislators as the 129th session prepares for a potpourri of challenges ahead.

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  25. Machias medical marijuana ordinance headed for town vote

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify that the existing medical marijuana storefronts in Machias are not grandfathered to continue operation. If the town votes no on medical marijuana, the five existing medical marijuana storefronts will have to close, per Town of Machias legal counsel. 

    More than 40 people turned out for a Machias public hearing on Monday, Nov. 19 to learn about the town’s proposal for governing medical marijuana. 

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  26. Lobster vessel sinks off Jonesport

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The U.S. Coast Guard Northeast District used Twitter to break the news that the F/V Overtimer sunk 11 miles off the coast of Jonesport on Sunday, Nov. 15. 

    Josh Kelley of Beals is the F/V Overtimer’s captain and Phillip Kilton is its sternman.

    The boat was loaded with lobster traps and when it took on heavy waves, it began to sink. The two-person crew donned survival suits and according to a USCG spokesperson got into a life raft before being rescued by F/V Bad Behavior, owned by Richard Smith of Beals.

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  27. Fire at the Centre Street Church

     

    The following excerpts from one of this paper’s antecedents, The Machias Republican, tell the story of a devastating fire that took place at the Centre Street Congregational Church and the subsequent rebuilding. The church is still located today on the corner of Court and Centre Streets in Machias. 

    MACHIAS REPUBLICAN – December 28, 1865

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  28. A true Thanksgiving tale of giving

    by Anonymous

    Editor’s note: The names in this heartwarming story of “paying it forward” have been changed, but the facts are unaltered. This took place last week, and the author lives in the Machias area.

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  29. Good Read: Summer Wind: A Soldier’s Road from Indiana to Vietnam by Randy and Roxanne Mills, Blue River Press, 2017

    by Charles W, Lightner, Friend of Porter Memorial Library

    As we approach once more the celebratory holiday season, I thought a word of caution might be in order. A Machias friend, Laurel Robinson, the proofreading editor, suggested I might read this excellent biographic story of a time which we all would rather forget - Vietnam. Here is a tough chunk of our country’s history we would all do well to remember!

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  30. Will Machias Bay Chamber Concerts survive to celebrate 50 years?

    by Peter Berry

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  31. MMHS golfers named DAC All-Stars

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Both members of the Machias Memorial High School golf team ranked in the top five of all players in the Downeast Athletic Conference, making MMHS senior Evan Dray and junior Jacob Sinford DAC Golf All-Stars.

    Coach Tony Roy said both students have played golf for all of their respective years in high school. 

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  32. The Nature of Phenology: Woodpeckers

    by Hazel Stark

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  33. Local holiday gift giving program now spans generations of children

    by Ruth Leubecker

    From 12 needy children to over 12,000, it’s taken Rhonda French 34 years to achieve a giving miracle of leading by example.

    “It all began 34 years ago when I was just out of college and running my own nursery school, and one little boy said he’d like to give a toy to another little boy who wasn’t going to get one for Christmas,” says French, reflecting on what would become a momentous day. “Well, we helped 12 children that first season, and I gave the toys to the Salvation Army to distribute.”

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  34. Young entrepreneur builds business success Downeast

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Tyler Farrington can make a wreath in just five minutes, but he knows someone who can do it even faster. “Beth Hawkins was about the best,” he said. “If I broke brush for her, she could make one in about three minutes.”

    Speedy wreathing is something Farrington appreciates as the owner of Machias Bay Wreath, a business he founded in 2013 at the age of 20. Employing about 18 people this year, Machias Bay Wreath will produce thousands of wreaths for wholesale and retail customers before the season ends mid-December.

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  35. Sports dominate Moosabec school news

    by Nancy Beal

    The separate school boards that govern the two elementary schools and joint high school in the Moosabec region met this month, and sports was much on the agenda. At the November 14 meeting of the Moosabec CSD, which oversees Jonesport-Beals High School, the board voted unanimously to join the Penobscot Valley (Athletic) Conference (PVC).

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  36. Cora Proctor Quimby remembered

     

    by Sandra K. Prescott

    Cora Proctor was born on Thursday, March 4, 1909, in the Larrabee District of Machiasport. According to her birth certificate, her parents had eleven girls  and Cora was child number nine. Last Saturday a celebration of her life was held at the Larrabee Baptist Church and Cora Proctor Quimby returned home to Larrabee at the age of 109.

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  37. Logbook of local shipwrecks recovered at Old Town auction

    by Lura Jackson

    In an area with as much history as Down East Maine, it isn’t uncommon to find remnants of past eras – although the quality of the contents wildly varies. Brian Smith of Baileyville recently found a piece of local history at auction that contains accounts of ill-fated voyages of vessels traveling through the area.

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  38. New CEO takes helm of Down East Community Hospital

     

    Steve Lail officially took the helm as Down East Community Hospital CEO on November 1, 2018.  With almost two weeks underway, everything is moving smoothly ahead.

    Steve is no stranger to the forward movement of Down East Community Hospital.  His notable accomplishments as Chief Operating Officer at DECH was project lead for the Emergency Department expansion, the Rehabilitation expansion, and the transition of Arnold Memorial Medical Center.

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  39. The State We’re In: Maine Stories by Ann Beattie, Scribner, 2015.

    A Review by RJ Heller

    “No day failed to contain the unexpected,” says it all about this book. Sometimes situations in real life never really resolve themselves; they just keep on going with no end in sight. Or the unexpected happens and another situation intercedes and takes over without the first one seeing closure. Much can be said of life and it is reflected beautifully in a new book by Ann Beattie.

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  40. Scouts in service

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  41. River Otters

     

    by Hazel Stark

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  42. Golden declared winner after RCV tabulation

     

     

    Jared Golden has been named the winner of Maine's U.S. House of Representatives CD2, defeating incumbent Bruce Poliquin following the tabulation of Ranked Choice votes. 

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  43. Machias Valley News Observer and Calais Advertiser recognized by MPA

     

    The Maine Press Association [MPA] has recognized two Washington County publications — the Calais Advertiser and the Machias Valley News Observer — for their exceptional journalism work between April 1st, 2017 and March 31st, 2018. The awards ceremony was held in Sunday River on October 20th. 

    The Machias Valley News Observer received four awards. The paper’s cartoonist Bob Bryson took home second place in the Editorial Cartoonist category. One judge lauded Bryson saying, “These cartoons are simple, but pack a big punch.”  

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  44. MSB brings $4M expansion to Machias Planning Board

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Josh Bragg unrolled a stack of architectural renderings in front of the Machias Planning Board at their monthly meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 7. 

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  45. Commissioners get creative, send county budget back to committee

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Nearing the close of a year-long, often heated debate over hiking taxes to add deputies to the sheriff’s office, the county commissioners have sent a revised budget proposal back to the Washington County Budget Committee with a new suggested county tax increase of 3.9 percent or $243,000. Previously the cost increase for the first year was more than 6 percent, or roughly $400,000. The first year increase is the highest because it includes the cost of cars and other gear.

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