1. Students will not return to classrooms this year

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Area schools have announced students will not be returning to the classroom this year, a sad eventuality they were already braced for. In an online video message to his students, Elm Street School Principal Tony Maker shared his feelings about the news.

    “My heart is broken about that, and I really feel badly that we can’t get together,” said Maker. “I know the teachers so miss you. This is not the way we wanted this to be.”

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  2. As state restrictions begin to lift, Downeast slowly reopens

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Many Downeast businesses have been able to operate — in a modified fashion — since coronavirus was first detected in Maine on March 12. Others, including barbershops and hair salons, were only able to reopen their doors on May 1. Now that Governor Janet Mills has announced her “Rural Reopening” plan, all retail stores in 12 rural counties can open their doors to foot traffic this week, and next week restaurants will be able to welcome customers, too. In all cases, safety protocols apply.

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  3. Amid pandemic, cruise ship hopes to berth in Eastport

    by Jayna Smith

    Vigorous debate erupted last week after Eastport Port Authority Executive Director Chris Gardner announced the possible arrival of the 785-foot Oceania Cruises vessel, Riviera, in the coming days or weeks. If approved, the vessel would arrive in Eastport carrying only crewmembers and could stay docked there for many weeks.

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  4. J-BHS graduation goes forward—later and outdoors

    by Nancy Beal

    Despite restrictions on social gatherings necessitated by the coronavirus, graduation ceremonies at Jonesport-Beals High School will take place, just not in the usual manner or in the customary place. The event will be held a month later than usual and outdoors on the school’s soccer/baseball field. The new date is Sunday, July 12 at 1 p.m., and attendance will be restricted. Only graduates, faculty and members of the administration will be allowed on the field.

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  5. East Machias talks alewives, new school bus

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    During their second meeting live-streamed on Facebook, the East Machias Board of Selectmen addressed two important issues. The May 7 meeting was attended by selectboard chairman Bucket Davis and selectman Will Tuell. Selectman Dale Richardson was not in attendance.

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  6. MMHS teacher provides crucial PPE to DECH

    Machias Memorial High School Physical Sciences teacher, Jim Lenke, reached out to the hospital to ask if Down East Community Hospital needed face shields. “Yes!” was the answer. Mr. Lenke used the school’s 3D printers to make visors that were designed with notches spaced across the front of the visor. These notches were designed to be matched with and fit into the holes made by a 3-hole punch. The reason that is important is it made it easy to produce the plastic shields that would be attached to the visors.

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  7. UMM names Class of 2020 valedictorian and salutatorian

    Dawn Johnson of Orleans, Massachusetts is the 2020 University of Maine at Machias (UMM) valedictorian and Kirsten Lisee of Milbridge is this year’s salutatorian. Both students majored in psychology and community studies.

    A member of the Clippers soccer team and recipient of the 2018 USCAA Student-Athlete of the Year award, Johnson draws on her counseling training to help her foster youth development through athletics.

    “I love coaching soccer and inspiring young people to play the sport that I fell in love with at a young age,” she says.

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  8. UMM announces 2020 Ivy Orator and Senior Watch Awards

    Three seniors at the University of Maine at Machias are being honored with special recognition for their contributions to the campus community.

    English, creative writing and book arts major Alondra Candelario of Thousand Oaks, California was elected Ivy Orator by UMM Class of 2020 graduates. The Ivy Orator traditionally delivers a lighthearted, humorous speech at Honors Convocation to reflect on the college experience.  

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  9. Community invited to driving memorial birthday for Baylee Kilton

    On Thursday, May 14, friends, businesses, and well-wishers are invited to participate in a driving memorial birthday for Baylee Kilton, who died in April 2019. Kilton would be turning eight years old this month.

    Participants are invited to line up at Meadowbrook Materials (located before Guptill’s Logging in East Machias) at 5:30 p.m. and the procession will be lead by Dean McGuire of McGuire Seasonal Services. The parade is expected to pass Lucky Star Stables in East Machias at approximately 6 p.m. Kilton's family will be watching from the stables.

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  10. Jonesport assisted living facility in the works, seeks administrator

    by Nancy Beal

    The Sunrise Adult Family Care Home in Jonesport, in the building of the original Resthaven Nursing Home, is underway. The generator and the alarm system are working, the sprinkler system has been renovated and has passed state muster and, last week, new flooring started going in. Some fixtures and furniture still need to be purchased, but the biggest need is an administrator, according to Carol Davis, head of a committee to bring the building back to useful life, a group appointed by the local medical center, which owns it.

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  11. Group offers free tablets to seniors

    by Ruth Leubecker

    For seniors sheltering in place minus any internet connection at home, a Machias business is offering a tablet with the capability to connect online.

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  12. What do computer chips, pressure-treated wood, respiratory problems and water have in common?

    by Jim Lenke

    With so much information about COVID-19, growth curves, and transmission rates blasted at us non-stop for months, every single person paying attention should have a degree in public health by now. So, let’s find out how knowledgeable we are about the dangerous players in our corner of Downeast Maine.

    Which is worse? Consider being given two glasses of water, one with lead and the other with arsenic and being told you had to drink one or the other, which would you pick?

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  13. When O-So Grape soda was made O-So Good in Machias

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Area children might be disappointed to know they missed the era of Machias-made soda. It’s not quite like losing the chocolate factory to Charlie, but close.

    “They were very good soft drinks, I had all I wanted of them,” said John Sprague of Marshfield. “They were in big vats upstairs, vats big enough so that they would put a big bag of sugar in them to mix it.” Sprague’s uncles Quentin “Spike” Sprague and Roland Sprague owned part of the business with Peter Palmer.

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  14. Baileyville man rebuilds cars for fun

    by Natalie Boomer

    Bruce White of Baileyville has been using his time while socially distancing the same as he would on any other occasion. Taking old things apart to make them new again.

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  15. Jonesport campground opening on hold

    by Nancy Beal

    The Jonesport selectmen continue to meet weekly via Zoom and teleconferencing. On April 22, they agreed to postpone the opening of the Henry Point Campground until at least June 1, and then review state coronavirus guidelines regarding such facilities. According to the measures issued by Gov. Janet Mills last week (April 28), lodging and campgrounds could open June 1 for Maine residents and for those who have met the 14-day quarantine requirement.

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  16. Teen camp plans virtual spaghetti dinner May 21

    Come together — virtually — as a community to celebrate and support our youth and the DownEast Teen Leadership Camp (DETLC). We are currently entering DETLC's 20th year!

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  17. Cherryfield Food Pantry giving back

    by Wayne Smith

    Cherryfield Food Pantry brings smiles and a warm glow to a community when it needs it the most. A place that lights up every Tuesday and Thursday that brings a purpose. It’s an institution where people can get food when they are in need. A place where there is caring, hope and prosperity all mixed in one. And it’s a place where a person can forget the coronavirus for just a minute. People can put two feet on the ground at the same time and get ahead of the game.

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  18. Bridge repairs begin this week

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Repairs will begin this week on three bridges known collectively as the Jeremiah O’Brien Memorial Bridge, which spans Bad Little Falls at the base of College Hill in Machias.

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  19. Organizers announce cancellation of Machias Wild Blueberry Festival

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

     

    Co-organizers Ellen Farnsworth and Nancy Lewis yesterday announced the formal cancellation of what would have been the 45th Machias Wild Blueberry Festival.

    "It is with a heavy heart that we are letting you know that we have decided, along with Governor Mills "Stay Safer at Home Order" that we have to cancel...," wrote Farnsworth and Lewis. "COVID-19 has turned our world upside down, and believe me, while we are saddened that this is the outcome, we also believe it is the responsible thing to do."

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  20. Machias land donation sets stage for historic ‘Liberty Village’

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A group of local historians plans to build a living history village that will transport visitors into 18th century Machias. The Revolutionary War Reenactors of Downeast Maine and Machias Historical Society recently received a 75+-acre land donation from Dr. Gayle Kraus, who says she is “totally enthusiastic” about the project, called “Liberty Village”.

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  21. Qualls named UMM Head of Campus

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    University of Maine President Dr. Joan Ferrini-Mundy last week announced professor Daniel Qualls has been appointed vice president for academic affairs and head of campus at the University of Maine at Machias (UMM) for a three-year term.  

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  22. Blueberry industry grapples with pandemic challenges

    by Nancy Beal

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  23. Legislature reopening tenuous, prison still on target

    by Ruth Leubecker

    While hundreds of bills in various stages of completion remain on the table, Maine’s 129th Legislature, closing early, inches toward a tenuous reopening on June 16, 2020.

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  24. Machias board talks bids, PD move, and PFAS

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Machias Board of Selectpersons stepped into the new swing of things with their first online meeting, held April 22.

    Jarod Farn-Guillette, director of Washington County Council of Governments (WCCOG), hosted the meeting which was attended by all five members of the board, Machias Town Manager Christina Therrien, Police Chief Todd Hand, Finance Director Meaghan Dennison, and Town Clerk Sandra Clifton, as well as several members of the public. The meeting was recorded for future viewing.

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  25. Washington County Sewing Circle making masks to protect those at risk of COVID-19 exposure

    As reports of the first cases of COVID-19 in Maine began hitting the newsfeed, Angela Fochesato, Healthy Acadia’s Cancer Patient Navigator, became increasingly concerned for the health of her cancer patients. Patients with cancer may be immune-compromised - depending on the type of cancer they have, their age, the type of treatment they are receiving, and other co-existing health conditions - putting them at a higher risk of contracting infections, including COVID-19. The risk of being immune-compromised is typically highest during active cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy.

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  26. Narraguagus Jr/Sr High School Class of 2020 Honor Parts

    Principal MaryEllen Day is pleased to announce the honor parts for the class of 2020 at Narraguagus Jr/Sr High School in Harrington. Valedictorian is Kaci Alley, daughter of Troy and Bobbie Alley of Jonesport. Salutatorian is Aryanna Beal, daughter of Troy Beal of Cherryfield and Seana Annable of Glenburn.

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  27. Washington Academy CNAs working in local healthcare facilities

    Last May, Washington Academy (WA) seniors Ryan Conley, Jocelyn Scoville and Marilyn Mubang completed a year-long Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) course. They were pinned and became certified CNAs in a ceremony held at Washington Academy on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. At the time, Ryan, Jocelyn and Marilyn didn’t realize that less than a year later they would be working in healthcare facilities during a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. These seniors are also completing their last semester at Washington Academy through distance learning.

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  28. Outdoors lockdown

    by V. Paul Reynolds

    More and more, the government’s nationwide COVID-19 mitigation measures are resembling a fictional nightmare from the pages of “1984,” George Orwell’s dystopian novel about oppressive government run amok.

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  29. The Nature of Phenology: Horsetails

    by Joseph Horn

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  30. Maine press, freedom of information groups urge public access to COVID-19 location data

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Eight organizations are urging the state to provide more specific location data for Maine's positive COVID-19 cases. The April 27 letter to Governor Janet Mills and Maine Center for Disease Control Director Nirav Shah was written on behalf of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition (MFOIC).

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  31. Local businesses should act now for future rounds of PPP funding

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

     

    If you’re a small business owner who did not receive funding in the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Machias Selectman Bill Kitchen says you should act fast to get in the queue for round two.

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  32. Open Letter to Gov. Mills: Washington County Commissioners would like to open up the county as soon as possible

    The Washington County Commissioners yesterday delivered a letter to Governor Janet Mills stating that rural Maine occupies a unique position relative to the coronavirus pandemic, and asking the governor to include the three most rural counties in conversations about how to reopen the state for business. 

    The full text of the letter appears here:

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  33. Destructive spring tide hits as Machias progresses on flood protection plan

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A spring tide and two-foot storm surge combined to flood downtown Machias on April 9, filling one business with more than five inches of water. The storm blew all day, but the worst damage came near midnight when the Machias River crested its banks. Business owner Joey Dennison described seeing the water roll down Route 1 from the Machias boat landing.

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  34. Machias hospital COVID-19 task force tackles challenges head on

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Daily morning meetings, implementing visitor restrictions and working on department surge plans are all elements of Down East Community Hospital’s newest program for combating COVID-19 should its onslaught come to town.

    “We’ve had the task force committee since early March,” says hospital CEO Steve Lail. “We go over supply issues, discuss questions and concerns, and the number of tests we’ve performed. So far we haven’t had a positive response.”

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  35. 2 local businesses partner to thrive during shutdown

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Whole Life Natural Market owner Jenny Spencer is reinventing her business on a near-daily basis. Like many small businesses impacted by the coronavirus shutdown, Spencer found herself suddenly juggling the demands of childcare, staffing concerns, and supply limitations while trying to keep her family, employees, and customers safe. As a food market, Whole Life is essential and could have stayed open. But in the era of social distancing, its tight physical quarters worried Spencer.

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  36. Jonesport town office adapts to pandemic closure, changes hours; beavers flood yet another road

    by Nancy Beal

    At the Jonesport selectmen’s April 8 meeting, Irene Rogers, their assistant, requested permission to work from her home. A week later, selectmen granted her wish. Given permission to download certain files, she said two weeks ago, she would be able to keep up with her designated work which includes preparing agendas and taking minutes of selectmen’s meetings (they are meeting via Zoom), administering general assistance and Salvation Army queries and handling mooring fees.

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  37. Crisis moves local food and self-sufficiency into spotlight

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Grocery shortages and a sense of uncertainty have driven some to discover — or rediscover — local food and gardening. Jacob Berry of East Machias recently built 10 raised beds for local families who want to start gardens of their own this spring.  

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  38. Plant peas near Patriots’ Day

    by Russell Libby

    If you want peas for the Fourth of July, it’s time to plant! Many Maine gardeners use Patriots' Day (April 19) as the traditional planting date. Peas are one of the first vegetables that can be planted in the spring because they grow well in cool soil.

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  39. Fresh seafood curbside

    by Wayne Smith

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  40. Out and About in Columbia

    by Ronie Strout

     

    It seems it does not want to warm up around here. One day without the wind would make it a lot warmer. I tried to rake some outside on Saturday and found it a bit chilly. I guess I was not moving fast enough to stay warm. My neighbor’s hens have been digging for ticks and worms and made a mess, so I figured I needed to clean it up. One load of raking was all about I could handle that day.

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  41. Kimbley Marie Davis (Gray)

    Kimbley Marie Davis (Gray)
    July 6, 1973 -- April 10, 2020

     

    On Friday, April 10, 2020, Kimbley Marie Davis, 46, passed away at her home in Addison. She was born July 6, 1973, in Machias, the daughter of Rose Denny and Bobby Gray of Jonesport.

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  42. The Nature of Phenology: Coltsfoot

    by Hazel Stark

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  43. County's second known COVID case shows up in ‘recovered’ column

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Daily COVID-19 updates from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention are typically accompanied by a map of known case numbers laid out by county and a table which shows how many cases are active, and how many have recovered. Washington County’s first case was reported on April 2, then last week a second case showed up, but in the “Recovered” column, though it was never reported as an active case.

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  44. County delegation appeals to Mills on behalf of small businesses

    The Washington County legislative delegation today sent an open letter to Governor Janet Mills appealing for resolution to the unemployment compensation issues which have delayed payment to many small entrepreneurs.

    The full text of the letter is contained below.

    Dear Governor Mills,

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  45. Science career leads WA alum to Abbott labs COVID-19 test team

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Michael Peasley discovered his love of science growing up in Machiasport. Today, he’s part of the Abbott Laboratories team manufacturing a rapid COVID-19 test which will soon be deployed in Maine and nationwide.

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