Roadside clean-up Saturday, May 2

160It’s that time again! This year’s St. George Roadside Clean-Up will be held on Saturday, May 2nd, beginning at 7:00 AM. This spring presents an extra challenge due to all the debris that was hidden beneath the snow. We welcome all efforts to clean our roadsides!

The event will start at 7:00 AM at the Town Office. There volunteers can pick up heavy duty bags for trash, plastic buckets for recycling, and sign up for a segment of road to be cleaned. As a send-off to the volunteers, a pancake breakfast is offered, sponsored by the St. George Days Committee as a fundraiser for the activities offered during the July celebration.

As an added incentive, volunteers can sign up, on a first come, first serve, basis to receive one of 25 free tickets graciously donated by the Monhegan Boat Lines for a trip to Monhegan, to be held on June 21, 2015 (rain date: June 28, 2015).

The St. George Solid Waste & Recycling Committee, who are this year’s organizers, encourage all volunteers to clean-up a section of road, whether it is by their own home or another road in Town. Each street will be broken up into manageable segments, covering both sides of the road. Volunteers are also encouraged to separate all material that appears to be recyclable and place it in the buckets. The trash and recyclables can be taken directly to the Transfer Station or left by the side of the road. Members of the Committee will be available to help with the drop off at the Transfer Station and also will pick up any waste and recycling left on the side of the road.

Together, let’s keep St. George beautiful!

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New Herring Gut director embraces ‘learning that transforms lives’—and communities

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe thing that prompted David Lamon to apply for the job of Executive Director of Herring Gut Learning Center was the same thing that brought him to Maine 27 years ago: An educational environment where small groups of students learn together about “real-world stuff.”

“Growing up in Philadelphia I attended a high school with 4,000 students—I felt pretty anonymous. But I had some learning experiences that showed me I needed small-group contexts to shine. So I wanted a college with a small student/teacher ratio.”
The College of the Atlantic on Mount Desert Island (MDI), he says, seemed to fit the bill. “I came for a visit and as soon as I sat in on some classes I knew that was the place for me. The students sat together around tables talking about what they were learning. You can’t hide in that context. You have to be one of the people at the table. That’s how I wanted to learn.”

Although Lamon’s college curriculum focused on the real-world topic of environmental science, he also pursued an interest in alternative models of education, especially hands-on environmental education, graduating with a teaching certificate that led to some classroom teaching. But much of his professional experience since then—most notably for 16 years at MDI’s Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary—involved a greater emphasis on conservation and research than on education.

“When I learned about Herring Gut, the educator part of me perked up,” he says with a grin. “The uniqueness of the type of educational work going on here appealed to me. After interviewing for the job I came back to see things when they were in motion, when students were here. It struck me that these kids weren’t just learning about marine science or aquaponics. The teachers—Ann Boover and Alexandria Brasili—were thinking about the students’ lives in the future.”

For one thing, Lamon says, the students were running their own aquaculture/aquaponics business. “They elect officers, make decisions. They also learn things like marketing—they recently developed a tag to brand the lettuce they sell in stores. It’s a pretty unique approach to learning.”

For another thing, these middle school students were unexpectedly poised. “Every student came up to me, shook my hand and looked me in the eye.”

Lamon also observed that, if the students didn’t know the answer to a question, Boover and Brasili didn’t give them the answer but asked them another question to get them to think further. “I thought, this is where I want to be, this fits with my vision for education.”

As Herring Gut’s new executive director, Lamon says he not only expects to be building on this and the many other educational programs Herring Gut offers—ranging from short-term investigation courses (a new one is on lobsters and covers not only biology but also the cultural context of the fishery and the impact of advances in boat design and technologies), to professional development programs for teachers both local and from around the country—but also to be developing new arenas of involvement with the St. George community.

One such arena, Lamon points out, involves new collaborations with local groups focused on youth such as Trekkers, the Jackson Memorial Library and the St. George School. “The staff here is especially enthusiastic about working with the new school district. The teachers I’ve met look to Herring Gut as a great resource in their back yard. So I’m looking forward to talking with them and the principal about some new programming.”

But Lamon is also eager to develop programs in which community adults will want to participate. “Citizen science is something I can see happening here. Herring Gut is a natural fit for having not only young students involved in doing research and science, but also adult community members.” He points to his experience on MDI working with both high school students and community volunteers over the course of more than a decade to gather research for an alewife restoration project and to monitor the island’s nesting loon population. “It’s just a matter of finding what issues are of conservation importance here in St. George,” he says.

Finally, much of what will occupy Lamon’s time will be the raising of the funds crucial to supporting the learning center’s work. “One piece is the never-ending process of identifying organizations that have an interest in supporting the kind of marine-related educational work we are doing and seeking grants from them,” Lamon explains. “The second piece is organizing fundraising events that involve the community.” He cites last year’s art auction and an event that took place on Allen Island as examples.

Only on the job since January, Lamon confesses he still has a lot to learn both about Herring Gut and St. George. “It has been a process of gathering the pieces of how things fit together, but also of thinking about the bigger picture, building on the mission of the organization.”

After a reflective pause, he adds, “This is a place that is not just about the content we’re addressing, but it is also as much about the transformation of individual lives. So I’ll focus on how we can expand what we are doing in various areas, but right along with that is continuing to focus on learning—and learning as a way of transforming lives and then transforming communities.” Keeping the focus, in other words, very “real-world.” —JW

Jaden and Neal in the greenhouse

Jaden and Neal in the greenhouse


TOP PHOTO: Julie Wortman
BOTTOM PHOTO: Alex Brasili

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The Port Clyde Fisheries Project

Learning about lobsters

Learning about lobsters

The 7th graders at St. George School have started an expedition called Port Clyde Fisheries. We are making an interactive map of Port Clyde with help from the Herring Gut Learning Center. The map is going to have historic sites, brief descriptions, and links to oral histories, pictures, and videos. We will explore challenges that face our fishery resources. We may also do activities with podcasts, old postcards, poetry, artwork, and a “Then and Now” video of Port Clyde.

For research purposes, we have been split up into four fisheries groups: sardines/herring, ground fishing, aquaculture, and lobsters/crabs.

On the first field trip we went to Herring Gut and filled out a questionnaire and then broke up into four different groups. There were four stations, each with activities and information and fish samples on the four different subjects. Each group rotated to all four tables and answered some questions.

This past Monday, we went to the Marshall Point Lighthouse for our second field trip. Mrs. Lorraine Hupper met us there to help. All four groups found a bunch of information. We looked at pictures, articles, and artifacts that were given and saved, like the sardine cans and old fishing and lobstering equipment.

Our goals for this project are: to learn local history of the fisheries; to record stories from local experts; to become aware of the changes in the industry and possibilities for the future; and to become good stewards of the environment and our natural resources. Ann Boover and Alex Brasili at Herring Gut Learning Center got grants from Maine Sea Grant and Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust to fund the project. We are very excited to learn more and to make the map!

—Chloe Simmons (Simmons is a 7th grade student at the St. George School.

PHOTO: Alison England

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New floodplain maps may affect insurance rates

flood plain storySMA notice in the Town newsletter a few months ago alerted residents with waterfront and nearby property to check out new draft federal floodplain maps. The notice said that these proposed changes to flood zones could mean increased insurance premiums. So I went to the Town Office to see how my property would be affected. I was also curious about what the impact of a Super Storm Sandy might be if it made it this far up the coast. Luckily, our Code Enforcement Officer, Terry Brackett, was available to serve as my guide as I waded into the murky waters of floodplain zone mapping and the alphabet soup of FEMA and NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program).

The last federal floodplain mapping was adopted more than 20 years ago, in 1993. The new draft zones reflect the measured change in sea level and the resulting impact from waves during a flood; they do not take into account any projected changes in sea level.

The question FEMA and NFIP are trying to answer with these revised maps is: At what elevation is there a 1 percent chance of flooding in any given year? FEMA’s website explains that base flood is by definition a flood that has a 1 percent probability of occurring in any given year. How far up flood waters will rise during that 1 percent flood is called the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). [The BFE used to be referred to as the “100-year flood zone,” but thinking of it like that gives a false idea of the risk of flooding. Even if floodwaters reached the BFE last year, there is still a 1 percent chance there could be a base flood this year.]

So how do these new BFEs relate to risk and insurance? It depends on whether the property is in an A, B, V or X zone. All but zone B exists in St George and for a community with 125 miles of coastline these new floodplain zones impact a lot of properties.

FEMA expected to adopt the proposed revised maps and zones in July 2015, but there have been so many property owners contesting the new flood zones that it will still be some time before the maps become final.

In the meantime, the draft maps are available at the Town Office and Terry Brackett is good at fielding questions.

—Susan Bates

PHOTO: Anne Cox

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Saturday School

Liam and Cayman with dino friend

Liam and Cayman with dino friend

At St. George School, we recently had our first day of Saturday school to make up for snow days. It was just a half-day, so it wasn’t that bad. (The other Saturday school dates are April 11, May 9, and May 16.)

We had many activities going on Saturday, one of them being “Dino Day” for kids in K-2. Other middle level students and I helped out with this activity. The kids were split into four groups, and were able to go to four classrooms to learn about dinosaurs. Chloe Simmons and I took around one of the groups to each classroom.

In the kindergarten room the kids painted dinosaur pictures with watercolor, and then glued shapes on the paper to create a dinosaur. In the 1st grade classroom we talked about carnivores and herbivores; two different kinds of dinosaurs. The kids dug for and made fossils in the 2nd grade classroom. In the gym the kids did an obstacle course with a bunch of dinosaur-themed obstacles.

Some of the other activities in the school were: fetal pig dissections in 6th grade, a spelling bee in 4th grade, science fair judging and announcement of winners in 3rd grade, hand-dipped candle-making, basket weaving and dying, cookie making, and more!
As we were leaving school Saturday, someone in 5th grade was overheard saying, “School should always be like this.”

The St. George School had 88 percent attendance on Saturday—the highest attendance percent out of the whole district! The attendance average for RSU 13 was 66.9 percent.
We have just learned that Superintendent John McDonald has requested that some of our snow days be waived, which would probably translate to having some/all remaining Saturday sessions canceled. We kind of hope not.

—Sophia Campbell (Campbell is a 7th grade student at the St. George School)

Editor’s note: Superintendent McDonald has indeed waived the remaining Saturdays. The children will have to find something else to do on Saturdays this spring!

PHOTO: Maisie Mathiau

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Good job!

At the April 8 meeting of the St. George Volunteer Firefighters and Ambulance Association, Fire Chief Tim Polky announced that the Association has received official word that its goal of changing the town’s ISO (Insurance Services Office) rating from a Class 9 to a Class 6 has been achieved. This change could lower the fire portion of residents’ Homeowners Insurance policies. The cover story of the October 23, 2014 St. George Dragon details the Association’s efforts to bring the change in rating about.  See the original story here.

The timed pumping test performed at the Transfer Station on Oct. 12

The timed pumping test performed at the Transfer Station on Oct. 12

PHOTO: Betsy Welch

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PACE loan program could help make energy improvements possible

After the cold and snowy winter we have all experienced this year, residents of St. George are probably thinking about ways to reduce the heating bills they have been faced with.  Those of us who live in older homes with poor insulation have been burdened with high bills, despite the reduced cost of fuel. One solution is for the voters of the Town of St. George to approve a required ordinance that allows the use of the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) loan offered through Efficiency Maine. This ordinance will be part of the town warrant at the May 11 vote, prior to the May 12 Town Meeting.

The PACE loan is part of a statewide program through Efficiency Maine that allows homeowners and small landlords to borrow funds to make energy improvements in their homes.  The terms are reasonable, 4.99 percent APR for up to 15 years and the borrower is able to access up to $15,000.

These funds can be used for various weatherization projects such as insulation, new windows and doors, new heating systems such as heat pumps, energy efficient lighting, solar thermal or photovoltaic systems, basement moisture barriers, and roof repairs.
Currently 180 municipalities representing 76 percent Maine’s population are participating in this program.  Rockland, Thomaston, Rockport and Camden have been utilizing the program for a couple of years.

A public hearing to discuss this program and provide information will be held at the Town Office on Monday, April 27 at 7pm, just prior to the Select Board Meeting.  Information about this program is available at Maine Coast Petroleum, the library and the Town Office.
—Judy Smith

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Where in St. George…?

IMG_2114SMDo you know where this is? Send your answer to The first correct answer wins a free business card-sized ad in The Dragon. Devyn Hooper identified Chris Chadwick’s Yellow Lobster Trap Workshop on Horse Point Road in Port Clyde in the March 19 issue.

PHOTO: Betsy Welch, suggested by Bill Iliffe

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Plan to blow quarry whistle stirs interest in wreck of “Polias”

PoliasSMRalph Cline II has suggested that during this summer’s St. George Days celebration the Clark’s Island Quarry whistle, not heard since the Hocking Granite Company closed more that 50 years ago, be sounded again. Now in the Marshall’s Point Lighthouse Museum, the whistle has a fascinating history.

One of the most unusual shipwrecks on Maine’s Coast in the last century occurred off Port Clyde. During a ferocious northeast blizzard on February 6, 1920, the freighter Polias struck Old Cilley Ledge. She had been built for service during World War I, and as unreasonable as it seems, her hull was made of poured concrete. At the time of the wreck, the Polias was returning to Virginia from Searsport, where her cargo of coal had been unloaded.

The huge hulk listed dangerously: panic struck and, against the captain’s order, 11 of the crew rowed away in a lifeboat, never to be seen again.

The ship’s whistle, one of the many items salvaged by our grandparents’ neighbors and friends from the abandoned wreck, found a new life at the Clark’s Island Quarry. At its signal work began at 7am, workers broke for dinner at noon, and they knocked off work at 4pm. That whistle’s long wail, heard all over town for two generations, is remembered with nostalgia.

Larkin Post of Owl’s Head earned his Master’s degree in Marine Archaeology from East Carolina University. For his thesis Mr. Post thoroughly researched the story of the Polias and even led a team of divers to investigate the Polias’ remains. He will give an illustrated talk at the St. George Grange Hall on Thursday, April 30 at 7:30pm for the St. George Historical Society. We hope to see you there—everyone is invited.

We also hope that the technical arrangements can be made to sound the old whistle during St. George Days—to remember not only the town’s quarrying days, but also the 11 men who perished in the storm of February 6, 1920.
—James Skoglund, St. George Historical Society

This photograph is from the Applebee Collection from the photography archives at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine. PMM’s photography collection consists of more than 140,000 photographic images from all over Maine, New England and beyond. More than 60,000 photos are available in PMM’s online database with more being added each week. Fine art prints are available. Visit today.

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Fulfilling a longing for space, seasons and a different cadence of life

Rick+Laura-January 20, 2015SMA number of years ago, when professional videographers Rick and Laura Betancourt left their home in southern California (they call it “So-Cal”) and headed to Ireland for a much anticipated vacation of scenic sightseeing, they couldn’t foresee that the trip would lead them to move to St. George, Maine.

“In Ireland we met a couple from upstate New York who afterwards invited us to come to their home for a visit,” Rick explains. “We arrived in autumn and were stunned by the beauty of the fall colors. We found we loved the northeast.”

After a number of further trips to the region, the Betancourts zeroed in on coastal Maine. “Being from the Los Angeles area, we like the coast,” Rick says. But what they didn’t like about southern California, he adds, was the intensity of suburban life there.

“We wanted space. We wanted to adjust the cadence of our lives, we wanted seasons. In southern California you’re so plugged in—it’s an engine working you to pieces.”

Luckily for the Betancourts, they could bring their videography business, Carolwood Productions, to Maine with them.  “We’ve always worked out of the home,” Laura says. And they have been able to continue working with clients in southern California as they transition to grounding their business in Maine.

“Maine is a great location for us,” Rick says, noting that the couple brings 18 years of experience to wedding, event, and corporate cinematography. “This is a popular destination for events and weddings and there is so much more variety to the environment here than in So-Cal.”

The Betancourts both have strong art and graphic design backgrounds and training. “We met in college during a representational drawing class. The instructor, acting as Cupid, told Laura, ‘Hey… go check out that guy’s work over there!’ It was love at first sight. We got married—and we’re still working together!”

From there, Rick’s path diverted into the business world, working in a fast-paced, corporate environment, and Laura added strong writing skills to her resume, eventually becoming a blog manager for a couple of wedding and fine dining websites.

“We launched Carolwood Productions full-time in 2006, combining our love for the creative, with solid business understanding so we could create effective media content for our clients,” Rick says.

The company’s name is a tribute to Walt Disney, who lived on Carolwood Drive in Homby Hills, Calif. “I’ve always been a fan of things Disney,” notes Rick on the Carolwood website. Rick also shared Disney’s love of steam-powered trains. In the early 1950s Walt Disney operated at his home a 1/8 scale live steam railroad that he called The Carolwood Pacific Railroad.

Producing effective videos for clients, particularly for corporate clients, the Betancourts stress, requires much more than technical skill. “It all starts with a script,” Rick says categorically. “That becomes the bible we follow. It puts everyone on the same page and allows us to get in on the planning stage for the production. We get to do a lot of problem-solving about how best to get an idea across.”

But making successful videos for weddings and other events involves special challenges. “Wedding videographers are among the most bullet-proof people on earth,” Rick laughs. “To make a 90-minute movie, we are both shooting a 15-hour day.”

“And there are no re-shoots!” Laura interjects, adding, “And sometimes you run into adverse situations, with lots of people running around as you are trying to shoot or poor weather conditions.”

“You’ve got to make the couple look beautiful and make the venue look beautiful,” Rick says. “You’ve also got to keep focused on what the couple wants. But if you’ve got the right mindset and come prepared you’ll be in good shape.”

The Betancourts moved into their home on Route 131 in Martinsville on Memorial Day weekend last year. To celebrate their first few months on the peninsula they put together a short video titled “Summertime in St. George, Maine,” that appears in the “Recent Projects” section of the Carolwood website. “It is really just a postcard for the people we know who have been curious about what St. George is like,” Rick says. Recently, they added another video of St. George in winter using a drone-mounted camera.

Asked what the couple likes best so far about living in St. George, Laura takes a moment to decide and then says, “The friendliness of the people. In southern California life is so hectic and busy you don’t get to know people.”

Rick nods in agreement. “Folks here seem genuine, they seem real.” After a pause, he adds with a wry smile, “And now maybe, just maybe, we can slow down and get back to an eight-hour work day.” —JW

 To learn more about Carolwood Productions visit or call 207-242-3264.

PHOTO: Courtesy Carolwood Productions

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Loving to drive even when speed is not the key

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADriving an ambulance is nothing like driving a race car, but in 2008 his love of racing is what led Christopher Milton-Hall to ask St. George paramedic Candy Davis if the town’s ambulance service ever needed drivers.

“I do love to drive,” Milton-Hall explains, noting that at the time he was looking for a community-minded activity to pursue in retirement. “I got to know Candy because her uncle lives next door to me and her grandparents live on the other side. One day I saw her in her paramedic uniform and I said, ‘Candy, do you guys ever need drivers?’ And she said, ‘Sure, come along!’ So I came along and that was how it started—I enjoy it thoroughly.”

Most of all, Milton-Hall says, he enjoys the people with whom he works, which includes the town’s firefighters, EMTs, paramedics and the other drivers. “It’s the comaraderie. These are good folks. I also enjoy the adrenalin of getting a call and responding—getting to the station, getting the ambulance and getting to the scene.”

In addition, there’s the satisfaction of being able to liaison with patients’ friends and family members who are standing by as the EMTs and paramedic are working. “They often need some reassurance about what is going on, about what the process is, where they go when they get to the hospital.”

Milton-Hall got started racing in the 1970s, driving open-wheel formula cars. The demands of his business career then intervened, but along about 2000 he was able to return to racing. When he retired to Spruce Head in 2003 he bought a Mazda Miata and began racing it in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) road races.

Driving an ambulance, he readily admits, is quite different. “The key to driving an ambulance is not speed. We are allowed to violate the speed limit, but only as long as we are carrying a patient and using lights and siren—and at all times we are to be reasonable. To be honest, if you have an accident it is not a good thing to be an ambulance driver. You’re held to a pretty high standard so you’d have to really be able to prove you were not at fault.”

The real key to driving an ambulance? “Smoothness,” Milton-Hall states bluntly.

“Our EMTs and medics are supposed to be belted in as much as they can be, but it is not possible at all times, so harsh braking, abrupt acceleration and sudden turning can cause issues with patient care. We work hard to make the ride in the back as easy on the EMTs and patients as possible.” Admittedly, he adds, our local roads, both paved and unpaved, don’t always make that a simple matter, especially in winter and mud season.

But whatever the circumstances, the Association works to make sure the drivers are well prepared for their duties, Milton-Hall notes. “I started doing ride-alongs with experienced drivers, then worked up to driving under supervision and finally progressed to driving the crew and patient by myself. I also took the Ambulance Vehicle Operator Course (AVOC), which is required within six months of starting to drive an ambulance. And then I took advanced AVOC courses.”

Importantly, driving from the station to the scene and to the hospital isn’t the only thing ambulance drivers do while on a call. “We assist at the scene, grabbing necessary equipment, performing CPR if necessary, helping load the patient on the stretcher, handling the stretcher, getting it into the ambulance, and then cleaning up the ambulance at the hospital to get it ready for the next patient. We’ve had more than one instance where the ambulance has received a call while finishing up at the hospital and has had to go straight to another scene in St. George, so it’s important to have the back of the ambulance ready to go ASAP.”

An average shift is eight hours long. “A driver can expect total inconsistency from shift to shift,” Milton-Hall says with a laugh. “Sometimes they spend the entire eight hours answering calls but other times there are no calls at all.” Some of the town’s ambulance drivers work full-time while others are retired or work part time. Drivers agree to remain within town limits (at home or elsewhere) during their shift.

In addition to being a volunteer ambulance driver, Milton-Hall was recently elected to the Association’s Executive Committee. Right now he is focusing on recruiting new drivers. “With our paid paramedics and volunteer EMTs we are in good shape to answer calls, but we are less well-staffed with drivers. If an EMT has to drive the ambulance during a call that means patient care can suffer. Just three to five new drivers would make a big difference.”

Loving to drive, Milton-Hall adds wryly, is a good qualification for the job.

Persons interested in volunteering to be ambulance drivers should contact the St. George Volunteer Firefighters and Ambulance Association at 372-6122 for more information. The only requirements are that you have a clean driving record and are reasonably physically fit. —JW

PHOTO: Julie Wortman

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