1. Catching up with Cale: Putting Out Fires with Machiasport’s Harbormaster

    By Will Tuell

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  2. Commence…What?

    by Jonathan Reisman

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  3. Sunrise Trail Opens for ATV Use

    By Will Tuell

    In yet another sure sign of spring, state officials have opened the Down East Sunrise Trail to ATV use. Game Warden Joe McBrine of the Maine Warden Service said in a message prior to the trail’s reopening that, despite severe flooding in January which caused extensive damage to the throughway, ATVers could expect things to be fully back to normal by early-to-mid summer. 

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  4. Feds Identify 100 Illegal Marijuana Growing Operations in Maine

    By Jayna Smith

    An extensive investigation conducted by various levels of law enforcement, including local, state, and federal agencies, has uncovered approximately 100 illegal marijuana growing operations in Maine.  While federal authorities are exploring potential links to organized crime, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maine has clarified that there is no indication of illegal immigration or human trafficking involvement in these illicit activities.

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  5. JBHS Board Talks Auditor, Teachers, Coaches

    By Nancy Beal

    Conversation (and disagreement) recently reported about Union 103 (Jonesport-Beals High School and the Beals and Jonesport elementary schools) and the auditor who reviews its books was prompted by a decision by the superintendent, not by the high school board, as reported in these pages last week (see “Jonesport Selectmen Disagree with High School’s Auditor Change,” Machias Valley News Observer, May 8, 2024). 

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  6. May is a Busy Month at Beals Elementary

    By Nancy Beal

    May is a busy month for students and teachers at Beals Elementary School. There are only 38 pupils in the pre-K-through-grade 8 island school (next year 45 are expected), but Principal Christopher Crowley and his staff make sure they get exposed to the same range of studies and activities as students in larger schools.

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  7. Elm Street Students Perform ‘The Curse of the Frog Prince’

    By Will Tuell

    After months of practice, students from Elm Street School in East Machias (and the surrounding homeschool community) regaled audiences last week with “The Curse of the Frog Prince” -- an adaption of the classic Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale published in the early 1800s that follows a spoiled princess, a cursed frog prince, and their efforts to reverse the curse. The performance was directed by Melina Neilson and produced by Eustacia Landrum.

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  8. Enterprising Marshfield Man Builds His Own Adventure

    By Will Tuell

    Back in the 80s and 90s, school kids everywhere lived out their wildest dreams in the popular “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series designed to stimulate both a love of reading and some truly far-out adventures that gave young readers the power to make decisions over their fate. 

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  9. CCH and DECH to Bring National Youth Speaker to Washington County Students

    Calais Community Hospital and Down East Community Hospital are once again bringing in a national speaker for Washington County students.  Last fall, area high school students attended the presentations.

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  10. Emergency Services, Water Quality Propel Machias Airport Expansion into Public Eye

    By Will Tuell

    A proposed expansion at the Machias Valley Airport has drawn concern from officials with the Machias Water Company who urged customers to contact the town’s five-member selectboard and Town Manager Bill Kitchen in a letter dated April 22. 

    Machias Water Company President James Learned and General Manager Jesse Davis cite concerns by the Maine CDC over whether a proposed new runway intersecting the airport’s existing runway would be significantly closer to the town’s main water production well than the 2500 feet recommended. 

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  11. Jonesport Selectmen Disagree with High School’s Auditor Change

    By Nancy Beal 

    Jonesport selectmen met for the first time since mid-March last week (Board chair Harry Fish had been on a trans-Atlantic cruise) and tackled an agenda with 11 items on it. The last of these, concerning the school board’s request for a new auditor for Jonesport-Beals High School, prompted most of the discussion. 

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  12. Fight over Legal Lobster Size Heats Up

    By Will Tuell

    Maine’s commercial lobster fishermen certainly have had a lot on their plate for the past several years with federal regulators adopting or proposing stringent new gear requirements designed to protect North Atlantic Right Whales that may, or may not, be present in the Gulf of Maine; concern over the location and scale of floating offshore wind farms; and most recently, stock assessments that could trigger changes in the rules governing what constitutes a legal lobster. 

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  13. Grocery Store In Cherryfield to be Sold

    By Wayne Smith

    C.H. Mathews Store in Cherryfield is in the process of being sold this month. The store has been in the Mathews family since its opening in 1891. It’s being sold by Bruce and Karen Mathews of Milbridge and bought by Ahmad Rehman of Augusta, Maine. Mathews talked with me about his memories of the oldest family-run store in Maine recently, and this is what he said in his own words.

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  14. Harrington Family Health Center Hires New CEO

    The Board of Directors at Harrington Family Health Center (HFHC) is pleased to announce the promotion of Demee Manchester to Chief Executive Officer.  For the past six months, Manchester served as the organization’s Interim CEO in addition to performing her duties as Chief Operating Officer. 

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  15. Down East Hospice Volunteers Receive $4,000 Grant from Local Bank

    Down East Hospice Volunteers of Washington County proudly accepts a grant award from Bangor Savings Bank through the “Community Matters More” program. We want to thank everyone who voted for DEHV along the way.

    You can also apply for the June 2024 volunteer hospice training and join our team at www.downeasthospicevolunteers.org, [email protected], or 454-7521 ext. 9126.

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  16. Convention Notes

    by Jonathan Reisman

    I attended the 2024 Maine Republican Party Convention in Augusta, aptly named “Restoring Freedom.” What follows are my Statler and Waldorf intern observations and notes.

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  17. Polar Treat Celebrates 75 Years

    The Polar Treat in Perry is ready for its 75th season.  

    After John and Mary Macdonald operated the take-out restaurant for 50 years, Jack and Bernadette Maloney did another 19, and, now, in their sixth year, Judson and Michelle Curtis recently held a ribbon cutting to commemorate the milestone.

    The Polar Treat has been recently renovated, with the building having been expanded and outdoor seating included. 

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  18. Machiasport Congregational Church Hosting Free Community BBQ May 17

    The First Congregational Church of Machiasport will serve a free community BBQ supper beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the church on Trafton’s Hill at 378 Port Road, in Machiasport. The menu includes ribs, brisket, burgers, hot dogs, macaroni and potato salads, mac and cheese, and a variety of desserts and soft drinks. 

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  19. Game Wardens Honor Marshfield Officer, UMM Professor at Annual Awards Ceremony

    By Will Tuell

    Sergeant Josh Beal of Marshfield and University of Maine at Machias professor Dr. Gerard “Gerry” Zegers came away from the annual Maine Warden Service awards ceremony on April 26 with two of the organization’s highest honors. Beal, who was tapped to lead Downeast game wardens in 2021, picked up 2023 Supervisor of the Year, while Zegers brought home the 2023 MWSA Merit Award for his work using cutting-edge DNA technology to solve several high-profile crimes the Warden Service has been investigating. 

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  20. Griffin, Morin, Onion Town Builders Receive Machias Chamber Awards

    By Will Tuell

    The Machias Bay Area Chamber of Commerce honored two local women -- Lisa Griffin and Joanie Morin -- during its 2024 annual dinner meeting on April 22 at Helen’s Restaurant in Machias.

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  21. Beals’ ‘New’ Selectboard Gets to Work

    By Nancy Beal

    Following an eventful special town meeting on April 19 in Beals, where an old hand in town affairs was returned to the select board and joined two new members (please see Machias Valley News Observer, April 24, 2024), the three met for the first time on April 23, spending three hours covering old ground and new.

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  22. A Look at Washington County’s Four Major League Baseball Players

    By Phil Stuart

    With the start of the Major League Baseball season, it might be appropriate to recognize four major league baseball players who came from Washington County.  The Downeast area has produced some outstanding baseball talent over the years, but only four actually put on a major league uniform.  All of them came from within a 20-mile radius in Washington County.

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  23. Garden Variety Earth Day

    by Jonathan Reisman

    I worked in my garden last week. A string of sunny sort of warm early spring days dried it out enough to get it tilled and to get peas and greens planted by Earth Day. My twenty-plus-year tiller started right up and ably prepared the soil, but loudly announced, just as I finished, that a trip to the tiller doctor would be required before further loam was lifted. 

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  24. Dakoda Davis Receives 2024 Maine Principal’s Award

    Washington Academy Head of School Judson McBrine proudly announced senior Dakoda Davis as the recipient of the 2024 Maine Principal's Award. The award, sponsored by the Maine Principals' Association (MPA), recognizes a high school senior's academic achievement and citizenship. Dakoda is the son of Adam and Sharon Davis of East Machias. 

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  25. Maine Home Education Leaders Kick-Off 1st Annual Summit

    On April 6, 30 homeschool leaders from across the state came together at Maple Hill Farm in Hallowell for the 1st Annual Leader Summit of the Maine Home Education Alliance (MHEA). 

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  26. Evening of Food, Fun, Fellowship Raises $4,100 for Machias Valley Christian School

    By Will Tuell

    Over 125 supporters of the Machias Valley Christian School gathered at the Lee Pellon Center in Machias on April 25 for the school’s annual art show, dinner, and auction. Diners were greeted with a healthy helping of spaghetti with a choice of three sauces -- including an extra hot and spicy meat sauce that singed the taste buds -- a tossed salad, and all the lemonade you could drink. A range of handcrafted items and savory desserts were auctioned off for the school’s benefit. 

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  27. May StoryWalk® Book Selection Introduces Young Readers to the Wide World of Vegetables

    For the Month of May 2024, the StoryWalk® at Porter Memorial Library in Machias will feature the children’s book "The Vegetables We Eat" by Gail Gibbons.  Celebrate the arrival of the spring planting season with this engaging exploration of various vegetables, from planting to harvesting and consumption. Through vibrant watercolor illustrations and clear explanations, Gibbons takes young readers on a journey through the world of vegetables - how they grow, how they get to stores, how many kinds there are, and more.

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  28. To Washington County’s shame, Rep. Anne Perry’s Legacy: A Sponsored Bill that Brings Havoc to Maine and to Maine Families by Subverting Parental Rights

    By Johnny Chambers

    LD227 has caused Maine to become the most anti-child, anti-family State in the nation. LD227 is the child of LD1735 which is better known as the "trans-trafficking bill", brought you by Anne Perry Democrat, is pushing for "gender affirming care" and "reproductive health care" as legal rights, without considering the detrimental effects it may have on children, parents, and the overall well-being of the state.

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  29. Raucous Meeting in Beals Results in Election of Old, New Selectmen

    By Nancy Beal

    Beals’ annual town meeting took place in late March and lasted nearly six hours (see Machias Valley News Observer, April 3, 2024). Three weeks later (April 19), voters from the island town of around 500 souls were back in session, picking two selectmen to replace the two who had suddenly resigned the previous week. Between 40 and 50 people crowded into the meeting room of the town office, many standing in the back or the adjacent kitchen, and spent less than an hour replacing them.

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  30. Novelist with Family Ties Draws on Downeast History in Multi-Generational Epic

    By Will Tuell

    A novelist from Washington State who has family ties to the greater Machias area will be visiting the area in early May to promote his latest work, a historical novel spanning several generations of “Dooling” or Dowling family history and an entire continent. Mike Neir, author of Trees in the Mist, said that researching his family history led him to Machias, where he discovered, and incorporated, his ancestors’ participation in the Battle of the Margaretta into the historical romance. 

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  31. It Smelts Like Spring: Downeast Salmon Federation Hosts 21st Annual Fish Fry

    By Will Tuell

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  32. Threat of Nurses Strike Looms over Down East Community Hospital

    By Will Tuell

    Barring a last-minute agreement, a union representing nurses and lab technicians at Down East Community Hospital (DECH) in Machias announced on April 19 that they will be going on strike for two days later this month. The decision comes as the two sides remain at loggerheads over a contract, which expired last October, and follows a late January rally where union members pushed for what they call “safe staffing” levels and better pay. 

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  33. Mason’s Downeast To Open April 24

    By Will Tuell

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  34. Saying Goodbye

    I said goodbye to my wife and the Maine legislature last week. I will always miss Ernie, but I cannot say goodbye to the freedom-crushing 131st Maine Legislature fast enough. 

    Ern’s memorial service was a blessing with friends, family, and community. Our grown-up sons delivered testimony that swelled me with both pride and grace. Testimony of her giving heart and many mitzvahs from friends and community buoyed me. Several suggested that Ernie was a Saint, which prompted me to bless her memory for sticking with me for 44 years.

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  35. Downeast HAM Radio Symposium in Ellsworth April 27

    In honor of Samuel Morse’s 233rd birthday, Ellsworth Amateur Wireless Association is conducting a symposium featuring not only Samuel Morse’s contribution to ham radio but also other technologies such as what a Raspberry Pi miniature computer can do for ham radio, packet radio demonstrations, and much more.

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  36. Track and Field Coming to Jonesport-Beals High School This Spring

    By Nancy Beal 

    Interest in a track and field program has cropped up at Jonesport-Beals High School this spring and a fledgling team of five has started competing. That was the message from athletic director Dan Campbell who informed members of the Moosabec CSD board at their April 10 meeting of what was happening and what was needed from the school.

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  37. Washington County Extension Invites Public to Annual Meeting on May 11

    University of Maine Cooperative Extension is hosting an annual meeting from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at the Washington County office, 116 O'Brien Avenue on the campus of the University of Maine Machias. Rain location is Kilburn Commons cafeteria.

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  38. Four Machias Valley Women Honored for Keeping Local History Alive with Commemorative Coin

    By Will Tuell

    Four generations of Downeast women credited with keeping the Machias area’s rich Revolutionary War-era history alive are being immortalized on a coin designed by artist Tom Brennan, which the Downeast Revolutionary War Reenactors are selling as part of an annual fundraiser to help preserve local history. The women include Rose Hall, Michelle Stanhope, Heather Vose, and a woman widely regarded as the “Matriarch of Machias History,” former reporter and lifelong historian Valdine Atwood, now in her early 90s. 

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  39. Locals Say Total Solar Eclipse ‘A Once in a Lifetime Event’

    By Wayne Smith

    Looking up at the total solar eclipse was an experience I will never forget. It was breathtaking, even with the glasses and all of that, because Robin and I watched the sky come to life right here in Milbridge, America, on April 8. I even caught up with a few people on the street during and after the eclipse and got their take. 

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  40. Beals School Board OKs 2024-25 Budget Increase of 2.7%

    By Nancy Beal

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  41. Wrangling over Public Access to Starboard, Point of Maine Headed to Court

    By Will Tuell

    In the six weeks since Machiasport voters flocked to the polls in support of the town’s proposal to take portions of two properties along Port Road needed to preserve access to outlying islands, the town and landowners appear to be locked in a tense legal struggle that could take years to play out. 

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  42. Machiasport Seeking Input on Commercial Solar Ordinance

    By Will Tuell

    The Town of Machiasport is seeking the public’s feedback on a draft commercial solar ordinance, Town Clerk Marcia Hayward said in an interview on April 9. The fourteen-page document applies to commercial-scale solar projects only -- and not residential or rooftop solar -- Hayward said. 

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  43. New Tire Shop Open for Business in Harrington

    By Wayne Smith

    I caught up with Lauren Bunker, the new owner of North Star Tire Shop in Harrington, last week. Bunker, like her father, was a truck driver but jumped at the chance to buy the shop when she learned it was for sale. She’s been in business officially since January. 

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  44. Green New Deal Comes to the 2nd CD

    by Jonathan Reisman

    Last week, I vented over Senator Collins proudly bequeathing $541,000 to the Sunrise County Economic Council for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI, aka “Didn’t Earn It”) indoctrination efforts. Not to be outdone, Senator King (I-Brunswick) and Representative Golden (D-ME-02) announced $7.1 million in Inflation Reduction Act investments (aka inflationary spending for the green new deal) in renewable (aka as intermittent and expensive) energy (subsidized solar arrays). Here is their March 29th joint press release:

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  45. Edmunds Couple Honored for Lifetime of Service

    By Will Tuell

    Wayne and Roberta Seeley of Edmunds have been synonymous with the Dennys River Ambulance service since the mid-70s and are widely credited with keeping one of the state’s last remaining volunteer EMS services running despite being in their late 70s. That commitment to the community did not go unnoticed as the Seeleys were honored with a “Spirit of America” award earlier this year and went to the State House to receive recognition for it on April 10. 

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