Author Archives: NGX edit

Rep. Arata’s latest newsletter

In Representative Amy Arata’s February 19 newsletter read about “2-1-1 Maine,” a one-stop 24/7 helpline connecting to a broad range of resources, thanks to the United Way and Maine Department of Health and Human Services; get information on Maine’s tax relief programs and how to check the status of your refund if you’ve already filed; and learn about the “Business Answers” program for guidance on starting and running a business, the state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman, and more.

Vacation week activities at Pineland

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Committees send solar energy system ordinance on to public hearing

| Joanne Cole, NGX |

It reads like a riddle with a distinctly New England slant: What do you get when you put a dozen members of three town committees together in a meetinghouse?

The answer: close examination of the town’s new solar energy system ordinance. Developed by the Land Management Planning Committee with the guidance of town planner Scott Hastings and a strong assist from knowledgeable members of the community, the ordinance now goes to public hearing on Tuesday March 3 at 7 pm.

Introducing the ordinance at a special joint meeting of the Select Board, Planning Board, and LMPC on February 11, planner Hastings characterized the proposed ordinance as “very permissive.” He said it “allows solar in most cases and just provides some performance standards to make sure [the systems] are not going to have a detrimental impact on neighbors, or the environment, or the scenic-ness of our town.”

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Rep. Arata’s latest newsletter

In Representative Amy Arata’s February 11 newsletter, read about local projects in DOT’s three-year work plan, a ceremony to honor veterans on March 27 in Augusta, the Maine Senior FarmShare program helping bring fresh produce to eligible seniors, the status of the citizens’ initiative to put the New England Clean Energy Connect transmission project on the fall ballot, and more.

Pineland Y “Fit to Win” for kids – It’s not too late to sign up!

It’s not too late for kids to join the four-week Fit to Win program at the Pineland YMCA. The free program, which begins Tuesday February 18, is open to young people in grades K through 6, and encourages physical activity and healthy habits.

Fit to Win meets on Tuesdays from 4:15 to 5:15 pm, February 18, February 25, March 3, and March 10. Teams will track their progress and might even win some sweet Boston Celtics swag at the end of the program.

The Fit to Win program is free, thanks to sponsors Sun Life Financial, the Boston Celtics, and the YMCA of Southern Maine, but registration is required. To sign up or for more information, contact Kara Phillips, Youth Development Coordinator, OR call 207.688.2255 ext. 611

Photo courtesy of Pineland YMCA

Peacock Hill Road orchard seeks event venue approval

| Joanne Cole, NGX |

The planning board on February 4 took up an application from David and Leslee Clark to hold outdoor events at their Royal River Orchards at 161 Peacock Hill Road.  They anticipate placing tents on their fields for weddings and perhaps other occasional single-day events.  Applicant Leslee Clark described their plans as “an extension of what we’re doing at the orchard.”

Asked by board member Ben Tettlebaum to estimate the number of events they might host, Clark was unsure.  She explained that they had been approached by a few people and simply wanted to have appropriate permits for this potential additional activity. 

Board members discussed whether the plan represents a significantly different use.  “I don’t see hardly anything changing,” member Doug McAtee said.  Others were less sure.  Town planner Scott Hastings noted that the office had received several inquiries about the application, including questions about noise and traffic. 

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NG Library’s Cabin Fever Book and Bake Sale is ON: Sat. Feb. 8 from 8 am to noon

Neither snow, nor rain, nor… The NG library’s Cabin Fever Book and Bake Sale is ON, Saturday February 8th from 8 am to noon.

The sale is a great chance to stock up on bargain books, videos, puzzles, and games, as well as homebaked treats, and more. There’s plenty to choose from for kids and adults alike.

Proceeds from the sale provide vital support for the library’s programs and operations. So come join your neighbors on Saturday morning for this fun and worthwhile community event.

Photo: Joanne Cole

Rep. Amy Arata’s latest newsletter

In Representative Amy Arata’s early February newsletter, learn about steps for avoiding Social Security phone scams, a tax credit for home accessibility modifications, a drawing to join Maine wildlife biologists on a visit to a bears’ den, and more.

What are the basics we need as a town? What are we willing to pay for them? New Gloucester is facing a very tough budget

| Peter Bragdon |

The current budget season is in full swing now.  For months the department heads and management have been working hard to develop a budget.  That budget as developed came in at a 14% increase over last year.  This is without the capital projects being included (i.e., funding capital improvement accounts and capital projects around town).   The capital projects could add a few hundred thousand dollars to the budget, increasing the percentage even higher.

I am sharing this info from faithfully watching all of the selectmen budget workshops.  This is all public knowledge, and I am not disclosing any inside information or representing the Budget Committee I chair with these comments.  All videos of the workshops are available on the town webpage. The board will continue to hash out the budget tomorrow night, February 6, and in the next week or so and then send it to the budget committee.  The budget committee will have a public hearing around the end of February and that will be the best time to give your input.

The proposed increase is on the town’s portion of the tax rate only. This does not mean that your complete tax bill will increase 14%.  The numbers from the county and the school system have not arrived yet, but I am sure you will see significant increases there also.  The town’s budget does not have any significant services added to it this year.   The increase in the cost of labor, insurance, and fixed costs is outpacing the increase in revenue.  I don’t fault the select board in their attempts to manage the budget.  I also don’t fault them in their cuts that have been in preliminary discussions.  As citizens we must really decide what a want is and what a need is. 

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We have been this way before

Photo: Michael Fralich

| Michael Fralich, Norumbega Farm |

As I was riding on Woodman Road a recent morning, headed back to the barn, I glanced down at the road. I saw our tracks from a ride we took over the weekend. Then, the ground was soft. The tracks were deep. Now they were frozen in the dirt of the road. Seeing those tracks made me think of the commitment I made at the beginning of December to ride as often as possible. It’s taken me twenty years with Cyra, my Clydesdale-cross mare, to realize that taking a ride can be as simple as slipping her riding halter on, taking a look at her feet, then hopping on bareback and riding away.

In the past when my work centered around horses (I co-founded and helped run an Equine Assisted Psychotherapy practice for six years), I rode Cyra to work. She had her own client base who she interacted with every week. In between work days we typically did not ride much. I would occasionally meet up with riding buddies and ride on the weekends. That was a very hit and miss affair. When the practice was on break for our vacations, I might not ride at all for days on end.

I am retired now. I ride because, while in the past I focused my horse life to benefit others, I now ride because being on Cyra with Mocha, my English shepherd, running along is my medicine. It is what keeps me mentally and physically healthy. Put simply, it feeds my soul. It does not matter how many times I throw my leg over Cyra’s back, every time is a thrill and a challenge.

It is a thrill because I am never really sure what awaits us as we head out. It does not matter how many times I travel the same roads or trails, every ride is different. It is a challenge because sitting on top of a thousand-plus pound living being with her own strong opinions about life requires focus, strength (physical and mental), and patience. In the two decades we have been a team, I have continually learned new things about my equine friend.

Cyra has an eagle feather attached to her riding halter. It is never still as we make our way out into the world. Even though most of our rides are at a gentleman’s walk, I still feel like I am flying above the Earth Mother from my perch on Cyra’s back. Since I began this new phase of our journey together on the first of December, I have ridden forty-nine times. I am nearly sixty-nine. Cyra is somewhere around twenty. I figure we have a solid ten years together before one of us gives out. I look forward to many more times when I glance down to find we have been this way before.