1. Machias selectboard talks solar power, Christmas parade

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Finalizing a process stalled by the pandemic, the Machias Board of Selectmen last week voted to move forward with a community solar contract, which will bring town-paid meters 15 percent savings off their annual electricity bill.

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  2. Second Baptist Church pastor responds to outbreak

    by Jayna Smith

    Last week, the Second Baptist Church of Calais made headlines across the state as 27 area people connected to the church tested positive for coronavirus. According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Nirav Shaw, 18 of those cases were considered primary, or directly related to individuals involved at the church. The remaining nine were considered secondary, or resulting from close contact of a primary case.  

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  3. Vietnam veteran lives life of service to his nation and his hometown

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Not long after celebrating his 18th birthday, Milan Jamieson enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. Born in Edmunds and raised in Pembroke, Jamieson recalls that he joined against his father’s advice.

    “I thought I knew more than my father did and he said, ‘No, you can’t go,” remembers Jamieson. “I think I needed discipline, and I got it.”

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  4. Election predictions

    by Jonathan Reisman

     

    This is a problematic effort because hopes and fears are swamping fact-based analysis, and the incredible media bias and malfeasant efforts to suppress Republican turnout with misinformation, misdirection and outright lies make determining what the facts actually are very difficult if not impossible. Nevertheless, here are my predictions, written less than a week before the election. I have never wished harder to be wrong.

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  5. Respected faculty members retire from Washington Academy

    The impressive careers of four recently retired WA faculty members, James and Joanne Ausprey, Donald Sprangers and Cathy Johnson collectively represent 124 years of education; years that represent more than half of the impressive 228 years that Washington Academy has been in existence.

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  6. The Nature of Phenology: Daddy longlegs

    by Hazel Stark

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  7. Schools prepare for hybrid instruction as county moves from green to yellow

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Washington County has gone from green to yellow on the Maine Department of Education’s Health Advisory System. Superintendent Scott Porter says he expects to notify district families of the resulting changes this afternoon, Friday, Oct. 30. Those changes will take effect Monday, Nov. 2.

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  8. In wake of COVID spike, area schools prepared to go hybrid or remote

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    With a 72 percent increase in COVID-19 cases across Washington County this month, most in the last 10 days, Machias area schools are watching for an update to the Maine Department of Education’s (DOE) color-coded Health Advisory System, which could come as soon as Friday. 

    Using data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, DOE codes each county green, yellow or red, and school districts — which retain local control — then decide how they will proceed.

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  9. Wreath makers take steps to ensure migrant workers are COVID-free

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The three local businesses that employ out-of-state laborers during the wreathing season have implemented protocols to ensure no worker enters the county with COVID-19.

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  10. Hike in property taxes fans escalating pandemic burden

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Property taxpayers this year are facing various changes in their bills which should point to a lesser total than last year’s bill, but that’s not generally happening.

    “It’s supposed to be based only on the town’s evaluation, total expenditures and revenue — unless your budget is going up and down dramatically,” explains Lewis Pinkham, for 16 years Milbridge’s town manager, whose mill rate is 15.125, down from a rate of 16.379 last year.

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  11. Blueberry commission nixes joining federal import probe

    by Nancy Beal

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  12. School plans, Whalen’s vacancy top Machias board agenda

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Machias schools this year have received $1.18 million through the CARES Act and two rounds of coronavirus relief funding. At the Machias Board of Selectmen meeting held Oct. 14, school officials updated the town on how that money is being used.

    A.O.S. 96 Superintendent Scott Porter said $191,000 in CARES Act funding can be held longer and can be used to defray taxation, unlike the coronavirus funds which must be spent on approved purchases by the end of the year,

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  13. Election fears

    by Jonathan Reisman

     

    The emotion governing this election, for both the left and the right, is not hope but fear. There is some talk of hoping to unite the nation and end the divisiveness, but that is nonsense. The goals of the left (socialism, color-conscious “anti-racism”, and an ever-expanding nanny state) are directly in conflict with the goals of conservatives (capitalism, colorblind equal protection, freedom of speech and religion and limited government).

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  14. Machias Valley News Observer recognized at Maine press awards

    The Machias Valley News Observer last weekend took home 13 press awards — the most the paper has ever won — at the Maine Press Association’s annual conference, held virtually this year on Saturday, Oct. 24. Its sister paper, The Calais Advertiser, won 17 awards including General Excellence in advertising, for a combined total of 30 awards between the two Washington County publications.  

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  15. Virtual concert series continues with ‘Ghost’ Rag

    In the latest from EAC Video, Gregory Biss presents a seasonally-appropriate tune — William Bolcom’s Graceful Ghost (Rag) and accompanies the piece with a little discussion of the ragtime form. From Scott Joplin’s claim to have invented ragtime and his ‘viral’ hit Maple Leaf Rag in 1898, ragtime has become a popular and pervasive form, stretching into our contemporary tastes, as evidenced by Bolcom’s composition, penned in 1970.

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  16. First town playground opens at Machias rec area

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    A brand new cedar playset is getting rave reviews from dozens of small citizens who stress-tested the installation last weekend, including this young man, right, who can attest to the strength of its climbing rope.

    The playset stands on the grounds of the Machias Recreation Area at the base of Salem Street where it meets Harwood near the Machias River.

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  17. WAA’s Karen Worcester reflects on veteran burial at Acadia National Cemetery

    Wreaths Across America’s Executive Director Karen Worcester last week reflected on a special funeral service held at Acadian National Cemetery in Jonesboro.

    This is what happened, in Karen’s words:

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  18. Spawning brook trout

    by Joseph Horn

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  19. Patriotism takes local Airman around the world and back again

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Editor’s note: In this seasonal feature leading up to Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11, we’re proud to bring you the unique service stories of some of our local veterans.

    Tommy Johnson started thinking about the draft when he was just 14 years old. He was in eighth grade that year, and the Vietnam War was nightly news. But Johnson was never drafted himself, because four years later he enlisted with the U.S. Air Force, and at the ripe old age of 19, he was off to basic training in Texas.

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  20. Machias jail shines compared to others often in crisis

    by Ruth Leubecker

    From the outbreak crisis in York County Jail to a hunger strike protesting safety conditions in the Androscoggin County Jail, Washington County’s facility has emerged as a model for Maine.

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  21. Route 1 rebuild on schedule, Machias dike project delayed

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Work on the area’s most dreaded stretch of frost heaves should begin next spring, according to Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) Senior Project Manager Randall Barrows.

    A call for bids to widen and rebuild an East Machias length of Route 1 running from Pope Memorial Bridge and north 1.8 miles will be advertised on Dec. 23. Barrows says DOT anticipates clearing and utility work could begin in Feb. 2021, and road construction could begin in April, weather permitting.

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  22. Students early visitors to new preserve on Beals Island

    by Nancy Beal

    The Nature Conservancy’s 1,500-acre preserve on Beals’ Great Wass Island was established decades ago and is well known to hikers and nature lovers throughout the country. Recently, a second preserve was carved out of the other island that makes up the town of Beals — named, appropriately, Beals Island — and donated to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT).

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  23. Some trick-or-treating planned in Machias

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Many Downeast families say they will be trick-or-treating on Halloween this year, though some have changed their plans due to the coronavirus pandemic.
    Results from an online survey conducted by this newspaper show that roughly 30 percent of respondents have changed their Halloween plans, and 70 percent plan to trick-or-treat as usual. Fifty-seven percent of respondents say they will be handing out candy, too.

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  24. Sergeant Schultz defense won’t hunt

    by Jonathan Reisman

     

    “I know nothing”- Sgt. Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes and the Biden Crime Family

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  25. Remembering Carlton Willey

    by Wayne Smith

    It was 62 years ago that Cherryfield native Carlton Willey pitched for the Milwaukee Braves against the New York Yankees in the World Series. The faces and places were different in this year’s series in which the Braves again played the Yankees. But for Willey, the ‘58 season will play on and on. I was able to interview Willey in the 1990s, and again in 2007. He died in 2009. Baseball was his life and this is his story.

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  26. Out and About in Columbia

    It was another week of doing up some more jelly; I made currant, mint and peony jelly and strawberry rhubarb jam last Sunday. I also made some green tomato pickles to use up the last of the tomatoes that had not ripened.

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  27. EAC to offer free workshops for kids

    Eastport Arts Center’s KinderArts program is thrilled to announce our latest project—free video workshops for kids! All may view the tutorial videos, which will be shared via our website and YouTube channel; materials kits will be provided free of charge by EAC, but supplies from home may easily be used as well if preferred. The sessions are geared towards children ages 3-8, but participants of any age are sure to have fun watching the colorful videos and following along at home.

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  28. Navy detects unsafe levels of PFAS in Cutler wells

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    Water testing on and around the Cutler Naval Station found unsafe levels of Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in 13 wells so far, including one on base.

    Base well #503 tested negative for PFAS in 2016 but this year 121.6 ppt were detected, well above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies health advisory level of 70 ppt. Three other wells on base tested negative, or well below unsafe levels.

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  29. The Nature of Phenology: Deer changing coats

    by Hazel Stark

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  30. Community mourns loss of ‘compassionate, tireless’ Dr. James Whalen

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    He was born in Illinois, educated in New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Paris, but for 42 years he made Machias his home. Dr. F. James Whalen, or just “Doc” about town, died at home on October 6. He was 80 years old.

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  31. Wild Blueberry Commission ponders probe into import impact

    by Nancy Beal

    The 10 members of Maine’s Wild Blueberry Commission (WBC) met for a day-long session in Orono last week — masked and socially distanced with the public listening in via Zoom and telephone. From 8:30 to noon, Jane Haskell, a facilitator formerly with the University of Maine Extension Service, led them through what was billed as a strategic planning session. The session involved examining the wild blueberry industry for strengths and goals and, through interactive break-out sessions, reaching a broad consensus for the industry’s future.

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  32. Families invited to hike and learn along the way

    by Natalie Boomer

    The Maine Outdoor School and the Milbridge Public Library have come together to host Summits and Stories, a hike up a local mountain along with a story told at the summit.

    Two hikes have already taken place in September and another is scheduled on October 17 at Tunk Mountain at 10 a.m.

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  33. Adult Ed opens up umbrella of opportunities, options

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Lack of funding can close doors, but often opens others, and that’s what happened when Washington County Adult Education and Training debuted on the local scene.

    “We opened in 2014 when Machias Adult Ed was going to close due to lack of money to keep going,” said Jane Blackwood, executive director of the small nonprofit. “We started from scratch. I hired new staff, and since then we’ve been expanding. I just want people to understand what we do and what we have to offer.”

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  34. Celebrate World Fish Migration Day by cleaning a local river

    by Natalie Boomer

    Downeast Salmon Federation will be hosting a river cleanup to celebrate World Fish Migration Day on Sunday, Oct. 25.

    World Fish Migration Day is a global-local event made to create awareness on migratory fish and the importance of free-flowing rivers. This simple river cleanup project will consist of cleaning up litter along the Orange River in Whiting. Open to all who are interested, volunteers are asked to meet at the Whiting Store on 136 US Route 1 in Whiting at 1 p.m.

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  35. Leaving the Washington County bubble

    Last week saw a quick trip through Southern Maine, coastal New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts (no that is not the same as Southern Maine) to Logan airport and back. I watched the political signs, heard the results of $90 million dollars spent in the Maine Senate race, saw the pandemic-stricken and struggling airline and hospitality industries and a slice of the health care sector that minimized face-to-face interactions wherever possible.
    Monday: Cooper to Scarborough

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  36. Preserve your photo memories at ‘Croptoberfest’

    by Jayna Smith

    There is a fun group of ladies who meet quite regularly, all sharing the hobby of scrapbooking. Coming up at the end of the month, the group is inviting others to join in on the fun for an annual Croptoberfest.

    According to organizer Dawn Smith, this is the biggest event of the year and attendees will create many different projects. “Each person will also get some exclusive gifts for their scrapbooking, and I always have door prizes, product specials, and lots of surprises,” she said.

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  37. Youth explore relationships to nature and community

    Amidst the uncertainty about returning to school and after a months-long stint of physical distancing, seven youth gathered this summer at Machias River Preserve with Corrie Hunkler, Youth Engagement Coordinator for Healthy Acadia, and Hazel Stark, Co-Founder of Maine Outdoor School, for a three-day, Restorative Practices in Nature and our Community Program. The program paired Maine Youth Action Network’s Restorative Practices curriculum with fun and engaging activities such as hiking, listening, reflecting, being curious, and responding to our natural surroundings.

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  38. The Nature of Phenology: Poisonous mushrooms

    by Hazel Stark

    Nature is full of trick or treating opportunities year-round. A patch of ripe blueberries at the top of a mountain or the discovery of a forgotten apple tree? Those are treats. Tripping over loops of hobblebush branches in the ground or getting surprised by the exploding seed capsules of jewelweed? Those are tricks. But there is one kingdom in Maine whose dark door you best avoid on a fanciful trick or treating adventure: the taxonomic kingdom of fungi.

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  39. Obituary of Dr. F. James Whalen

    Dr. F. James Whalen, 80, died at home in Machias on October 6, 2020. He was born in Waukegan, Illinois on October 3, 1940, to Kemener (KJ) and Avis Whalen.

    He attended Rutgers University on a swimming scholarship and earned a B.S. in Chemistry. He continued onto Georgetown for his residency in Orthopedics. He completed other programs to expand his medical expertise including a program in Paris specializing in hand surgery. He also proudly served in the United States Air Force from 1962 to 1965.

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  40. In Princeton, state combats first invasive milfoil infestation east of Augusta

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    For the first time ever, invasive milfoil has been discovered in Washington County, in Princeton’s Big Lake. Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) biologist John McPhedran says it’s not only the first known occurrence in the county, but in the eastern half of Maine. The next closest known infestation is in the Kennebec River, in Augusta.

    “This is a big jump east, for sure,” said McPhedran, who works in the DEP’s Invasive Aquatic Species Program.

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  41. Lisa Hanscom joins WBC as blueberry council expands

    by Nancy Beal

    When the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine meets in Orono this week, its body will expand from eight to ten members, and half will be folks who grow the iconic Maine fruit and half will be those who process them. This change is pursuant to a law that took effect last January and to the appointment to fill the new positions by Amanda Beal, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

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  42. CDC opens formal investigation surrounding Baileyville mill

    by Natalie Boomer & Jayna Smith

                                            
    Seven contractors who worked at Woodland Pulp LLC and St. Croix Tissue in Baileyville have tested positive for COVID-19. So far, one local worker who was in close contact with those contractors also received a positive test result.

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  43. Collins v. Gideon: an uncommon battle to the finish line

    by Ruth Leubecker

    Setting records while engendering unparalleled national attention, Maine’s embattled candidates, Senator Susan Collins and Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, continue their escalating competition toward the grand finale on November 3.

    The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are among the national media focusing on the Collins/Gideon contest as it races to a head as the costliest race in Maine history.

    A recent New York Times/Siena College poll has Collins at 44 percent, Gideon at 49 percent and 6 percent undecided.

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  44. UMM reopens fitness center to community members

    by Sarah Craighead Dedmon

    The University of Maine at Machias fitness center members should dust off those running shoes, grab their masks and head back to campus because effective Monday, Oct. 5, gym workouts are back on the table.

    UMM Director of Athletics and Fitness Michael Belanger said members can expect to see some changes.

    “As you enter you’re going to go through a symptom screening questionnaire at the front desk, and if you are symptom-free you can come in and utilize the fitness center,” said Belanger.

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  45. October

    by Jonathan Reisman

     

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

    “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise”- Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors)

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