1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. Scouts in service

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  9. River Otters

     

    by Hazel Stark

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  10. 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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  11. 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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  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. King earmarks three issues for bipartisan action

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Sen. Angus King, in a decisive victory at the polls, will return to the U.S. Senate to serve a second six-year term. And he has ambitious plans.

    “I want to let everyone in Washington County know how excited I am to have carried Washington County,” he said in an exclusive interview with the Machias Valley News Observer on Friday. “I’m humbled, and I’m anxious for us all to be working together. Much remains to be done.”

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  15. Homicide, rape, robbery on rise in rural areas

    by Lura Jackson

    Overall crime in Maine is continuing to decrease, according to a report released by the Uniform Crime Reporting division of the Maine State Police that records crimes in various categories in both the urban and rural sectors of the state. Some crimes, however, have increased, with particularly sharp rises in rural areas – defined as areas without their own police departments.

    "Overall crime down by almost 50 percent in six years"

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  16. Local election results reveal independent mindset Downeast

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Ballots from one of the most hotly anticipated midterm elections in decades were mostly tabulated by Wednesday, Nov. 7, with voter turnout numbers predicted to break the previous record from 2014 (59 percent). As of press time only Congressional District 2 remained undecided (Poliquin v. Golden).

    From the center to the eastern edge of Washington County, voters elected a mix of Republicans and Democrats and often parted ways with the rest of Maine on statewide questions and candidates bound for Washington.

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  17. Scallop draggers license lottery winners announced

     

    The Maine Department of Marine Resources has announced the first new entrants into the scallop fishery since 2009.

    The winners of a recent department lottery to apply for a license include Matthew Alley from Beals Island who holds a lobster license, Chase Fitzsimmons from Lubec who has crewed on a scallop boat, Johnathon Oliver from Deer Isle who holds a lobster license, and Frank Gott from Bar Harbor, who also holds a lobster license.

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  18. ‘History lives here’

     

    by Sharon Mack

    Machias Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Director Sharon Mack opened last week’s DownEast Acadia Regional Tourism Symposium with this speech welcoming tourism industry stakeholders to Machias. We print it here with her permission.

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  19. The Lion and Tiger return home to Whitneyville

     

    In the early 1980's University of Maine at Machias Art Professor Frank Hamabe

    taught the children at the Whitneyville Public Library the art of puppetry.  A good friend to one of the library's founders, Dorothy (Dot) Bodger, Frank shared his love of art with the many children of  Whitneyville.

    It was during that time that the Whitneyville Public Library received a  grant for Frank Hamabe to do a pictorial history of the steam engines, The Lion and The Tiger, and their journey on the Whitneyville and Machiasport railroad.

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  20. Belanger takes the helm for UMM athletics

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Sports fans and fitness regulars are getting to know a friendly new face around the Reynolds Center. Mike Belanger assumed his role as the University of Maine at Machias Director of Athletics and Fitness in late September, and he can be found making the rounds of the fitess center morning, noon and night.

    Like any new director, Belanger is spending time reviewing the programs he has and hatching plans for improvements, too. Belanger has a background in analysis, even though it is no longer his chosen career.

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  21. Jonesport selectmen on storm drains, solid waste, holiday closures

    by Nancy Beal

    Jonesport selectmen began trying to get the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) to fix several storm drains on Main Street well before the DOT paved Route 187 last August. Having no success and concerned that since the new tar was laid the holes are more treacherous than before the paving, they recently wrote directly to the DOT commissioner. Last week, they received a reply.

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  22. BREAKING NEWS - MACHIAS SAVINGS BANK PROPOSES NEW $4M FACILITY ON MAIN STREET

     

    On Wednesday, Nov. 7 Machias Savings Bank presented its next wave of investment in its hometown to the Machias Planning Board.

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  23. Election results reveal independent voter mindset Downeast

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Ballots cast in one of the most anticipated midterm elections in recent decades are still being counted around Maine, but local races are now safe to call with 75 percent of Washington County’s votes tabulated. From the central to eastern Washington County, voters elected a mix of Republicans and Democrats and often parted ways with the rest of Maine on statewide questions and candidates bound for Washington.

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  24. Deputy debate heats up, committee kicks budget back to county commissioners

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Less than two weeks before state law requires them to submit their recommendations, the county budget committee voted 9-1 to halt their work and send an unfinished budget back to the commissioners, cutting a scheduled three-hour meeting on Oct. 31 down to 32 minutes. Rep. Will Tuell (R - E. Machias) was the lone dissenting vote. 

    Machias Finance Director Megan Dennison made the motion that shortened the meeting, saying the budget should go back to the commissioners for their recommendations for cuts. 

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  25. ‘When I think of leaving, I don’t want to leave these people’

     

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Jan Rhenow, not one to age in place, nonetheless has mixed feelings about leaving her parishioners at Jacksonville United Methodist Church.  

    “This church and these people are just wonderful,” reflects Rhenow. “But I’m leaving. Finally retiring at the end of June. I want to play a little bit while I can.”

    Rhenow, who has ministered at the Jacksonville church for three years, has been a spirited, somewhat unconventional presence in the church community. She admits to “a  very colorful past.”

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  26. Jonesport to explore policing with neighboring Addison, Beals

    by Nancy Beal

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  27. Boggia doc reveals murder plans, intended victim

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A former Machias and Calais business owner arrested after a three-day manhunt in February has been charged with two new crimes in addition to the 12 already levied against him. Robert Boggia, owner of Downeast Smoke and Vape shop in Machias, was charged on Tuesday, Oct. 30 with conspiracy to commit murder. 

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  28. School bus, three cars involved in Columbia Falls accident

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Maine State Police confirmed that an accident involving multiple passenger cars and a school bus took place on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 1 on Route 1 in Columbia Falls. The bus was transporting students from M.S.A.D 37 and no one was seriously injured, neither on the bus nor in the other cars involved.

    Trooper Austin said that three vehicles were damaged, but the car that started the accident left the scene of the accident and was never found.

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  29. Machias Community Christmas extravaganza around the corner

     

    On Saturday, Nov. 17 the holiday spirit will take over Machias with the much-anticipated 2018 Community Christmas celebration.

    A full day of fun will kick off when Santa Claus comes to town. He’ll be taking wishes at the Lee Pellon Center from noon to 5 p.m. and after chatting with St. Nick children can enjoy snacks, crafts and toys!

    Porter Memorial Library will host its annual Holiday Open House from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. including hot cider, cookies, music and a chance to shop for early holiday gifts at a used and glossy book sale.

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  30. The Editor's Desk

     

    By Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Ahhhh, November. The holidays are just around the corner, and yet November seems like an oasis of calm after the flurry of activity that accompanies the election cycle, the fall sports season and pre-winter outdoor chores.

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  31. Plurality punch of LePage could be a tough act to follow for next governor

    by Ruth Leubecker

    After eight years of bombastic bluster and overwhelming crudeness, Gov. Paul LePage termed out and relinquishing the helm, is leaving Maine with his promises kept.

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  32. Veterans Day - Honoring all who served

    In celebration of Veterans day, check out the November 7th issue of the Machias Valley News Observer for our tribute to all of the brave men and women who have served or are currently serving in our military

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  33. Stevenson pleads not guilty

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  34. Boggia doc reveals detailed plan to commit murder, intended victim

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A former Machias and Calais business owner arrested after a three-day manhunt in February has been charged with two new crimes in addition to the 12 already levied against him. Robert Boggia, owner of Downeast Smoke and Vape shop in Machias, was charged on Tuesday, Oct. 30 with conspiracy to commit murder.

    Read More
  35. School bus, three cars involved in Columbia Falls accident

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Maine State Police confirmed that an accident involving multiple passenger cars and a school bus took place on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 1 on Route 1 in Columbia Falls. The bus was transporting students from M.S.A.D 37 and no one was seriously injured, either on the bus or in the other cars involved.

    Trooper Austin said that three vehicles were damaged, but the car that started the accident left the scene of the accident and was not found.

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  36. Washington Academy Raiders bring home the state title!

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  37. Selectboard talks school-zone speeding, selling the telebusiness center, and marijuana

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    During their bi-weekly meeting held Wednesday, Oct. 24, the Machias Board of Selectmen resolved to ask the Machias Police Department to enforce the speed limit on Court Street with regular patrols.

    In recent weeks a speed-measuring sign was placed in two different locations in Machias. Over a 12-day period on Court Street, the sign counted 15,253 cars with 10,833 of them breaking the speed limit. 

    “That’s two-thirds of the people speeding, coming into a school zone,” said Machias Town Manager Christina Therrien.

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  38. Maine Lobster Union honors drowned fisherman, talks fishing politics

     

    by Nancy Beal

    The local branch of the Maine Lobstermen’s Union (MLU) opened their monthly meeting in the library of Jonesport-Beals High School October 26 with a moment of silence in memory of Scott Chandler, the 51-year-old Jonesport fisherman who had drowned out of his 20-foot lobster boat in Moosabec Reach two days earlier. Afterward, the hat was passed around and the two dozen fishermen present donated a total of $527 for his family.

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  39. Local candidates share views, common ground at UMM forum

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A congenial tone permeated the two-hour local candidate forum hosted by the University of Maine at Machias on Thursday, Oct. 25. Nine of ten local House and Senate candidates attended the event, representing Senate District 6 and House Districts 138-140. The event was also live-streamed on www.machias.edu. 

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  40. Machias Valley News Observer Voter's Guide

    A look at the candidates’ contests

    by Lura Jackson

    Upon opening your ballot this year you’ll see a bit of the familiar – and a bit of the new. Along with the customary dance of the incumbents and their challengers, this year’s midterm election is the first in which Mainers will be utilizing the Ranked Choice Voting system.

    The local races

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  41. Raider teams enjoy banner weekend

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    On Saturday, Oct. 27 the Washington Academy volleyball, football and track teams all took their games to the next level. In the case of volleyball, they took it all the way to the pinnacle, bringing home the state championship title for the second time in four years.

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  42. Trick or Treat Main Street

    This chilling sight was seen standing like this up and down Main Street

    The town of Machias joined in the festivities with the Machias Bay Area Chamber of Commerce’s scarecrow contest, this year featuring a band of mischievous minions, characters from the popular “Despicable Me” movie series. Photos by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

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  43. Washington Academy Raiders are playoff bound!

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  44. Donation gives Machias’ Nash building new life on Main Street

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The historic Nash building will soon pivot from a symbol of Main Street decline to an agent of change for the wider Washington County business community. Last week Machias Savings Bank announced it has partnered with the Sunrise County Economic Council (SCEC), and that the Nash Building, located at the end of Centre Street and Main Street in Machias, will be given new life as the Machias Valley Center for Entrepreneurship. The bank purchased the building in June, 2017.

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  45. Library a crowning achievement in Whitneyville

     

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Years of struggle, letter-writing and slow-but-steady progress have paid great dividends in the tiny community of Whitneyville and its ever-evolving library.

    The Whitneyville Library and Whatnot Shop, 52 years old and still counting, officially opened its 4,000-square-foot new building on October 20. “We’re completely handicapped-accessible, and we have two bathrooms,” says longtime librarian Pat Brightly, obviously and rightfully proud. 

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