1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. The Nature of Phenology: Horsetails

    by Joseph Horn

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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. 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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  11. 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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  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. 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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  15. Fresh seafood curbside

    by Wayne Smith

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  16. 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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  17. 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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  18. The Nature of Phenology: Coltsfoot

    by Hazel Stark

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  19. 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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  20. 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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  21. 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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  22. Washington County lags in census response

    by Nancy Beal

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  23. Rural Maine faces tough obstacles in health care turmoil

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Substandard broadband and ill-suited federal policies have seriously hampered information technology from bringing optimum health care to rural Maine.

    The hurdles for rural Mainers are often insurmountable, plagued by a lack of resources, generally hinging on insufficient manpower and funding.

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  24. J’pt, C’Falls sweeten their withdrawal offer from PRSWDD

    by Nancy Beal

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  25. Working on the frontline

    by Wayne Smith

    I caught up with one of my cousins. Tianna Muniz is 21 years old and works at Lawrence General Hospital in Massachusetts where she is a nurse’s aide. She works on the COVID-19 floor, and she talked about what she does there. She talked about how she has dealt with different situations and about how it takes a toll on her mentally and physically. She also speaks about where she gets her inspiration. She was brave to tell her story, at times her voice shook yet we got through it.

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  26. Out and About in Columbia

    by Ronie Strout

     

    We had quite a snowstorm on Thursday evening, April 9, into Friday so that we had to have a two-hour delay to deliver the school lunches. Some folks in the area lost power but we did not on the Ridge. Thank goodness, and hopefully, the next storm that is predicted will also not affect us. If we are getting high winds here then there is the chance that some trees will fall over onto the wires. As long as everyone stays safe is all that matters.

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  27. Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles find shelter in many homes

    by Natalie Boomer

    Many of us have noticed ladybugs in our homes recently. These bugs are actually a specific type of ladybug known as the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle, and they become more common in New England homes during times of cold weather.

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  28. WCCC launches online business management program

    Technology is rapidly changing the business world. Team members are able to engage and productively collaborate with one another no matter where they are physically located. To foster a new generation of business leaders who are well-prepared to thrive in an online environment, Washington County Community College [WCCC] is now offering its popular Business Management program fully online.

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  29. Constrained supplies continue to slow widespread coronavirus testing

     

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Washington County’s detected COVID-19 case count has not changed since one case was reported on April 2, leading many to wonder if there are actually any active cases in Washington County. 

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  30. Sewing circle makes face masks on virtual assembly line

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Bags of fabric are crisscrossing Washington County along a virtual assembly line so precisely orchestrated, the people working on it never see each other. Working remotely, the Washington County Covid-19 Mask Sewing Circle has already delivered more than 500 cloth face masks, and taken orders for 1,200 more.

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  31. Jonesport selectmen ‘Zoom’ in on town business

    by Nancy Beal

    With guidance from Jared Guillette of the Washington County Council of Governments (WCCOG), the Jonesport selectmen met last week, linked by the video conferencing system known as Zoom, and the public was able to watch and join in. During their hour meeting, they dealt with recreational marina floats, an appraisal of the hoped-for commercial marina, and listened to another presentation on broadband.

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  32. Daredevil cyclist was born in West Quoddy Head Lighthouse

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Fittingly born a pioneering firecracker on the Fourth of July 1895, Hazel Marion Eaton also is distinguished by being the only person born in the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse. Not the family’s living quarters, but the tower itself.

    Her father, Edwin Eaton, assistant lighthouse keeper (1895-1900), was overseeing the painting of the main house when her mother became nauseous from the paint fumes. Eaton ushered his pregnant wife into the tower for some relief, where she promptly went into labor, and Hazel was soon born.  

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  33. $2T coronavirus relief package includes stimulus checks

    by Jayna Smith

    Within just a couple of weeks, many Americans will be receiving economic impact payments to help deal with the economic fallout as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This money is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

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  34. WWII vet Mac McKean prepares to celebrate 100th birthday in Florida

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Francis “Mac” McKean had planned to celebrate his April 16 birthday in Machias with friends and his traditional birthday treat — a coconut cream pie from Helen’s Restaurant. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, those plans are indefinitely postponed. Instead, McKean will turn 100 in Florida where he spent the winter with his son. But even as he waits, McKean is hatching plans to travel back to Maine this summer so he can celebrate his birthday in grand style, with old friends.

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  35. Fires claim two Jonesboro homes

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Jonesboro-Roque Bluffs Fire Chief Mike Schoppee said no people were injured in separate fires that destroyed two homes last week.

    Seven departments responded to a fire that destroyed the home of Joe and Janet Mawhinney in Jonesboro on Sunday, March 29. Chief Schoppee said a wood fire in an outbuilding spread to the main structure. “The [outbuilding] was fully engulfed when we arrived,” said Schoppee, “and the garage was already on fire, and it was attached to the house.”

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  36. WHRL becomes Women for Healthy Rural Living

    After 15 years of advancing opportunities for health and wellness in Downeast Maine, the Women’s Health Resource Library (WHRL) is changing its name. In 2005, the organization was born out of a desire to help women and families become active and informed partners in their own health care via a lending library. Over the years, WHRL realized that wellness is best advanced by going out into the community and helping people meet their most fundamental needs. This hands-on approach has proven far more effective than the lending library, which is now the least of their services.

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  37. DECH sets record straight on supply shortages

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Down East Community Hospital spokesperson Julie Hixson last week took to social media to address inaccurate rumors that the hospital’s lack of PPEs (personal protective equipment) was due to financial constraints.

    “This couldn’t be further from the truth,” wrote Hixson. “We feel it is important to communicate to our staff and community members that our access to PPE has nothing, whatsoever, to do with our financial condition or decisions.”

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  38. Center strives to nourish arts community

    by Lauren Koss

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  39. New fishing regulations

    by V. Paul Reynolds

    Fishing regulations, like any rules or regulations, are not easy to love. Some time ago, as fishing law books got thicker and the water-by-water rules got increasingly complex with multiple S-codes and exceptions to the General Law, a cynic made the observation that a serious law-abiding angler needed two companions with him on the water: a Sherpa to carry the law book and a lawyer to interpret the regulations and S code for each body of water.

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  40. State ‘Stay Healthy at Home’ directive: What does it change Downeast?

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Governor Janet Mills held a press conference yesterday announcing new, stricter measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Maine. Called the “Stay Healthy at Home” directive, the measure urges Mainers to self-isolate, extends the prohibition on classroom education until May 1, and puts specific headcount limitations on essential retail establishments like grocery stores and gas stations.

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  41. Schools working overtime to provide learning, food, and normalcy — from a distance

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Teacher Caitlyn Roy reported to work on Friday, March 13 expecting a day of professional development workshops. Instead, she and her fellow teachers were told to prepare 15 days worth of lesson plans, and quickly.

    “We still didn’t know if [a shutdown] was happening, or when,” said Roy, who together with Kelly Woodward teaches fifth grade at Rose M. Gaffney Elementary (RMG) in Machias. “We had to create lesson plans for math, but we didn’t know what the lessons would be about, so we had to make plans that were fill-in-the-blank.”

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  42. 400 acres around Vining Lake acquired by Downeast Coastal Conservancy

    by Nancy Beal

    Several hundred acres surrounding a prime brook trout habitat that is also a popular ice fishing lake in the town of Cooper will be preserved for the people of Washington County and beyond through the sale last month to the Downeast Coastal Conservancy (DCC), the Sunrise County’s foremost land trust headquartered in Machias. DCC took title to the acreage around Vining Lake on March 12 from a couple who wanted the area to remain undeveloped and available to the public in perpetuity for low-impact recreational use.

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  43. Area residents weigh in on mounting coronavirus crisis

    by Ruth Leubecker

    While Washington County remains free of confirmed cases of coronavirus, the average person appears to be realistically appraising the inevitable.

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  44. ‘Nimble’ agencies ramp to meet increasing needs Downeast

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    In February, Washington County reported the highest level of unemployment of any county in Maine, registering 7.7 percent and up from 6.4 percent in 2019, according to the Maine Department of Labor. That number does not include fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic which began to close area businesses in mid-March.

    As the economic impacts of COVID-19 closures hit home, Community Caring Collaborative (CCC) Director Charley Martin-Berry said Washington County agencies are ramping to help people struggling every day to make ends meet.

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  45. Hanscom awarded bid for DCF demolition

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Representative Will Tuell (R-E. Machias) Sunday announced that Maine Department of Corrections has awarded a bid for demolition and abatement of the Downeast Correctional Facility (DCF) to local contractor Hanscom Construction.

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