1. Machias receives almost a million 'clams' for wastewater-treatment completion

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Machias Town Manager Bill Kitchen last week announced Machias now has the money required to move forward with repairs to its wastewater treatment facility, thanks to an $893,589 grant from the American Rescue Plan Act. 

    Plans to complete the Machias sewer system repairs were fully funded and ready to progress before the pandemic halted everything in 2020. This year, price hikes put the $2 million project roughly $600,000 over its previous estimate, leaving the town short of funds, until last week.

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  2. Fiddleheads, a Maine delicacy, in season now

    by Jayna Smith

    Fiddleheads are a springtime delicacy across Maine and New Brunswick, and in the Downeast area, are ready to be harvested.

    The ostrich fern fiddleheads can be identified by the brown, papery scale-like covering on the uncoiled fern.  Because they are perennial, they come back year after year, and according to University of Maine Cooperative Extension, nearly all ferns have fiddleheads, but not all fiddleheads are edible. 

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  3. New state law will ban some composts due to PFAS

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A new Maine law will, effective July 24, ban the spreading of municipal sewer sludge and the production of PFAS-containing sludge-derived materials, including many commercial compost mixes which contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively known as PFAS.

    Locally, the only commercial compost known to be made with sludge-derived materials is sold by the company Mark Wright in Columbia under the name Mark’s Mix. Mark Wright is, as of 2021, owned by Casella Waste Systems.

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  4. J-BHS budget passed; more policies under consideration

    by Nancy Beal

    In less than 45 minutes on May 11 and with little discussion, 16 citizens from the Moosabec towns of Beals and Jonesport, nearly half of them school affiliated, approved a budget of $1,781,070 for their combined high school for the 2022-2023 school year. The total amount will be reduced to $882,371 after a state subsidy of $342,546, and miscellaneous revenues of $551,153 are subtracted. Beals will pay 26.1 percent of that amount ($231,487), and Jonesport 73.9 percent ($655,884).

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  5. University truths

    by Jonathan Reisman

     

    Several years ago I was at a Washington County Republican meeting, which has not been a particularly common occurrence. I introduced myself to another attendee, and when he heard that I was a University Professor, the look on his face was one of horror and suspicion. He might as well have reached for some garlic and a crucifix to protect himself. His assumption that I was likely a left wing socialist plant sent to study aliens was not accurate, but would have been for the overwhelming majority of University faculty.

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  6. Summer fun and learning at Roque Bluffs Community Center

    The Roque Bluffs Community Center on Saturday, May 28, will kick off a number of classes with A Nature Walk with Carol. The class instructor will be Carol Muth, and it will be an exploration of the signs of late spring, including bird songs, emerging plant life, and the insects of the day. Roque Bluffs State Park will be the classroom.  It is recommended that people participating in the walk provide their best tick protection, i.e., heavy socks with long pants tucked in. Only a small group of 8 to 10 people can do the walk each time so sign up early.

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  7. The Nature of Phenology: Northern parula warblers

    by Hazel Stark

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  8. Versant announces Machias service interruptions May 18; Bad Little Falls substation's days are numbered

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Plans to decommission and remove an aging electrical substation will move one step closer to reality on Wednesday, May 18, when Versant Power begins transitioning some Machias electricity customers onto new power circuits.

    Ultimately, says Versant Communications Specialist Marissa Minor, the project will move customers on the southern side of the Machias River onto an entirely new substation.

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  9. Kingfish Maine hosts meeting to answer Moosabec challengers

    by Nancy Beal

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  10. At rally, LePage echoes issues shared at last fall’s visit Downeast

    by Jayna Smith

     At a Republican convention in Augusta this past weekend, former Gov. Paul LePage told the crowd he would “fix the broken budget” if he wins the election in November. 

    LePage is rallying for his third term as governor.

    If he does win the bid for governor, it would be the first time since 1966 that an incumbent governor was ousted.  

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  11. Expansion planned as Machias schools budget and enrollment grows

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Machias Schools 2022-23 budget plans a spending increase of nearly $1 million over the previous fiscal year but will raise taxation by a much lower number of $67,441.46, or 4.42 percent.

    Some of the next year’s budget increases are in response to a surge in enrollment at Machias Memorial High School, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in decades.

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  12. Beals okays salmon aquaculture moratorium; Jonesport’s on hold

    by Nancy Beal

    By a vote of 23-0 on May 2, Beals voters opted to put a six-month hold on new or renewed aquaculture projects designed to grow salmon in their waters. In Jonesport two days later, selectmen rejected a petition for a similar pause on all commercial aquaculture activity, citing legal advice that the petition, signed by 74 townspeople, was not accompanied by the required sworn statements from its circulators. 

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  13. Local triple homicide trial to begin this month in Belfast

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Jury selection for the trial of Thomas Bonfanti of Northfield is set to begin May 23 in Belfast. 

    “We’re anticipating three to four days to pick a jury and up to two weeks for the trial,” said Bonfanti’s attorney Jeffry Toothaker, who was appointed to the case on April 8. 

    Bonfanti has entered a plea of not guilty, and earlier this year requested his trial be held in another county to avoid possible tainting of the jury pool by pre-trial publicity.

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  14. Mistress of truth

    by Jonathan Reisman

     

    Almost immediately after rogue oligarch Elon Musk took Twitter away from the conservative censoring wokerati, thereby causing a panic attack amongst the free speech hating left that they might not be able to control the narrative and what people think, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas announced amidst a Congressional grilling that a new Government Disinformation Board, promptly dubbed the Ministry of Truth, would be established, headed by noted musical theater songstress and lyricist Nina Janowicz.

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  15. Washington County Children’s Chorus to resume rehearsals

    After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the Washington County Children’s Chorus will resume rehearsals from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, May 22, at Centre Street Congregational Church in Machias.

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  16. Quoddy Voices to present concerts this month

    After a two-year hiatus from gathering ‘in person,’ Quoddy Voices members are proud and excited to present their Spring 2022 Concerts, ‘Coming Back’, on Friday, May 27 at 7 pm, and Sunday, May 29, at 3 pm, at Eastport Arts Center. 

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  17. The Nature of Phenology: Bearberry blooming

    by Hazel Stark

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  18. Maine’s next game wardens attend training in Washington County

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The road to becoming a Maine Game Warden drives new recruits through 14 weeks of training and into five regions of Maine, too, including Machias where last month trainees practiced crime scene management during a storm that dropped five inches of rain in a single day.

    “The rain definitely added an extra element to things,” said Warden Josh Beal, who worked with the new wardens during their week in Washington County. 

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  19. Jonesport looking at broadband

    by Nancy Beal

    The town of Jonesport has $139,000 in federal relief money that is expandable as a contribution to a broadband system that reaches all of its citizens. For weeks, the selectmen’s assistant, Irene Rogers, has been collecting information from broadband companies about what they offer. Last week, Melinda Kinney of Spectrum (under its corporate name Charter Communications) joined the selectmen’s meeting by zoom and began laying out what her company could offer.

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  20. Senior nursing student pursues her passion at UMaine Machias and UMaine

    by Hailey Wood

    Lydia Sprague of Marshfield will graduate in May from the University of Maine with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She spent her first two years at the University of Maine at Machias completing her prerequisites, then finished her last two years at UMaine.

    Her clinical experience solidified her interest in pursuing a career in labor and delivery, or in pediatrics.

    “Ever since I was really little, I had an absolute love for the pediatric population — kids, babies, all of that,” Sprague said. “My dream was always to be a nurse.”

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  21. Air of celebration at DCF reopening

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Spirits were high Friday, April 22, as local, county, and state officials joined members of the wider Washington County community to celebrate the reopening of the Downeast Correctional Facility (DCF) in Bucks Harbor, Machiasport. 

    A glossy white tent shielded guests from most of the spring winds and showers as they dined on an elegant buffet provided by the kitchens of Mountain View Correctional Facility in Charleston, before assembling near a podium in front of the new DCF, its roof almost entirely covered with solar panels.

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  22. First National Bank donates to the CCC

    First National Bank recently announced a $3,000 donation to the Community Caring Collaborative towards The Joy Fund. 

    Established in March 2022, The Joy Fund assists first-time home buyers in Washington County make the transition to homeownership by providing funds for home inspections related to a home purchase.  Georgiana (Georgie) Kendall, a 5th generation Downeaster, started this fund to support folks who would like to live, work and play here in Washington County. 

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  23. Young artists shine at Roque Bluffs Art show

    On Saturday, April 23, 18 young artists showed their talents at the Roque Bluffs Art Gallery & Learning Center's annual Youth Art Show. 

    The Center’s first art show of the 2022 season had a full range of public school and home-schooled students covering ages from five to 16 years old. 

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  24. Washington Academy inducts National Honor Society members

    On Thursday, April 28, the Washington Academy National Honor Society (NHS) held its annual induction ceremony in the Gardner Gymnasium. The ceremony began with a welcome speech from NHS President Kaitlyn Smith and a traditional review of the new inductees' qualities established by the Society, including scholarship, service, leadership, and character. 

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  25. Registration open for 2022 Wreaths Across America Stem to Stone Races

    Wreaths Across America (WAA) proudly announces that registration is open for its annual Stem to Stone Races which are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. A live, in-person event will take place in Columbia Falls, Maine, on the tip lands where balsam is grown and harvested each year to make the veterans’ wreaths that are then placed on the headstones of our nation’s heroes for Wreaths Across America Day. Participants can also join in on the fun from anywhere utilizing one of the many virtual options.

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  26. The Nature of Phenology: Harbor seal pups

    by Joseph Horn

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  27. Two Perry residents arrested for the murder of Kimberly Neptune

    The following was released by the Maine State Police today at 5 p.m.

    On Friday, April 29, at approximately 4:45 p.m. the Pleasant Point Police Department and the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit North arrested 38-year-old Donnell J. Dana of Perry and 38-year-old Kailie A. Brackett of Perry for the murder of 43-year-old Kimberly Neptune also of Perry. Neptune was found dead in her home on Thursday, April 21.

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  28. 19 Main Street prepares for its next act

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    For the town of Machias, 19 Main Street has filled many roles over the years — as a fruit and confectionery business, a music store, a bar, a stationery and gift shop, and until recently, as a shuttered symbol of Main Street decline. 

    This month, the old Nash building was removed, and soon 19 Main Street will be home to something altogether new —  the MaineStreet Business Building, a business incubator that could aid in creating economic growth downtown and across the county. 

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  29. Beals to vote on aquaculture moratorium for Eastern Bay

    by Nancy Beal

    The Moosabec area’s Eastern Bay is a marine gold mine from which fishermen from Beals and Jonesport extract lobsters, clams, scallops, periwinkles, worms, and more. Its pristine waters also make it attractive for aquaculturists, especially salmon growers. Over the past three decades, increasingly larger areas of its waters have been removed from access by traditional fishermen and given over to exclusive use by large, often foreign, corporations who commandeer acres of ocean for salmon net pens.

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  30. J-BHS budget of $1.776M to go before Moosabec voters next month

    by Nancy Beal

    At their April meeting, the nine-member board that governs Jonesport-Beals High School approved a budget of $1,776,070 for the 2022-23 school year. That amount is $66,196, or 3.87 percent, above what voters approved last year. When reduced by miscellaneous revenues ($551,153) and state subsidy ($342,546—$46,008 less than last year), the taxpayers’ share of the bottom line is calculated at $822,443, which is just under $60,000 more than last year—a hike of 7.29 percent.

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  31. New Downeast recovery program offers helpful hand

    by Jayna Smith

    Washington County has been noted as a “hot spot” for both opioid and all overdoses in the State of Maine.  Even more, the state is the leader per capita in opioid and all overdoses in the entire New England region.  Now, to help curb the drug epidemic, a new program is available in Washington County.  

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  32. Vote to help Machias art students!

    Art students at Machias Memorial High School have advanced to the final 50 in an art contest sponsored by Vans shoes, and they need your help to go further. Art teacher Becky Lee says MMHS is the only Maine school to make it into the contest’s top 50 in a contest that began with 250 schools and if Machias wins, the grand prize will be $50,000 toward the school’s art program. Four other schools will receive $15,000. 

    To participate, students designed shoes based on one of this year’s themes of “Hometown Pride,” and the legacy of Vans’ founder Paul Van Doren. 

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  33. The left hates free speech

    by Jonathan Reisman

     

    ..the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error. - John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

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  34. Porter Memorial Library Art Show Fiesta will honor Stephen Copel May 7

    Porter Memorial Library invites the public to attend its Art Show Fiesta on Saturday, May 7, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Fiesta will celebrate the opening of two art exhibits at the library: Youth Art Exhibit, on display downstairs in the children’s room, and Photos of Mexico by Stephen Copel, on display upstairs on the main floor. Festivities on May 7 will include music by Duane Ingalls, and a pinata and Mexican food provided by Miguel Guijarro.

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  35. Dinner and auction to support Sarah’s House of Maine

    by Jayna Smith

    Sarah’s House of Maine is a cancer hospitality house located in Holden. It serves many from all over the state who are receiving treatment, with Washington County residents making up the majority – 42 percent.

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  36. The Nature of Phenology: Spring molt

    by Joseph Horn

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  37. $10k reward offered for information surrounding murder of Kimberly Neptune

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A reward of $10,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the death of Kimberly Neptune, 43, of Perry, who was found dead in her home Thursday, April 21. 

    Police today named Neptune’s death a homicide. Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit North is investigating Neptune’s death with the assistance of the Pleasant Point Police Department, which has offered the reward. 

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  38. State police investigating death of a Pleasant Point woman; public's help requested

    The following was released today, April 22, by Maine State Police.

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  39. Maine CDC confirms fatal case of tickborne Powassan virus in Waldo County 

    The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) has confirmed a fatal case of Powassan virus infection in a Waldo County resident. The adult developed neurologic symptoms and died while in the hospital. This person likely became infected in Maine.

    Cases of Powassan virus are rare in the United States, with about 25 cases reported each year since 2015. Maine has identified 14 cases since 2010. Humans become infected with Powassan through the bite of an infected deer or woodchuck tick.

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  40. Machias drafts municipal budget; town property sales considered

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The Machias Budget Committee and selectboard last week finished working through the municipal portion of the town’s 2022-23 budget, which anticipates a net increase of less than five percent, or $68,880, above last year.  

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  41. J-BHS considers transgender policy

    by Nancy Beal

    The Moosabec CSD board that governs Jonesport-Beals High School was introduced to a model transgender policy last week which, after a month of study that will include a 90-minute training session, it will discuss and may act on at its May meeting. The policy is crafted in accordance with the Maine Human Rights Act, 20-A MRSA Section 4601. The reason for its consideration at this time remained confidential.

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  42. Machias board talks airport, playground, 4th of July fireworks

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The town’s only public playground is getting ready to grow again with the upcoming addition of a children’s merry-go-round, paid for using a $3,600 donation from Machias Savings Bank. 

    Machias Town Manager Bill Kitchen, who has championed recreation area improvements for years, shared the news with the Machias Board of Selectmen April 13 at their regular bi-monthly meeting.

    “Eventually we’ll put up a plaque to recognize all the [playground] donors,” said Kitchen.

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  43. Local young woman fights back against sexual assault

    by Kaileigh Deacon 

    During the month of April, a light is shown on a topic that can often make people uncomfortable. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which gives a voice to survivors to share their stories, highlight means of support, and give strength to efforts for change. There is still a stigma around sexual assault despite progress having been made in the last several years, but thanks to survivors and their supporters, they are working to change that. 

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  44. BES board okays $998K budget, public to vote on May 17

    by Nancy Beal

    Last week, the Beals Elementary School board met and approved a proposed budget of $997,983 for the 2022-23 school year. This amount is an increase of $88,934 (9.78 percent) over last year’s bottom line of $909,049 and will cause taxpayers to foot a larger share of the total local appropriation.

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  45. Justin Day, RIP

    by Jonathan Reisman

     

    Justin Day, who served Down East Maine with honor and dignity for more than 50 years, passed away last week. He was 86 years old.

    Justin served as the First Selectman of Cooper for many years. He was also the primary assessor, land surveyor, a major landowner and blueberry grower, and the link between the Town County, and State government.

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