Pursuing a career path that involves solving ‘quickest, cheapest’ logistical challenges

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor Martinsville resident Olivia Hupper, it is not out of the question to think that she might one day have a professional relationship with pencils—or something like them. A second semester sophomore at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, Hupper is working on a degree in International Business and Logistics with the hope of becoming a professional logistician. Thinking about how pencils find their way into stores like Staples, she says, pretty much sums up what the field of logistics is all about.

“You would probably think that every part of a pencil comes from China—the wood, the lead, the eraser, the metal that attaches the eraser to the wood. But some parts come from China, some come from the U.S., some from Mexico, some from Thailand. So you have to find the quickest, cheapest way to get all those products to Mexico to produce the pencil and then the fastest and cheapest way to send it to the U.S. and then ship it out all over the world.”

While price is the biggest factor in guiding the decisions a logistician makes, Hupper explains, quality concerns are also important. So to make sure a pencil eraser meets a company’s quality standard, it might be necessary to send an agent who knows about erasers to, say, Thailand to determine the best source. “That expense might seem ridiculous for an eraser,” Hupper admits, “but considering how big a company Ticonderoga is, it makes sense. The company’s reputation depends on quality. You may have to pay more for the pencil, but it’s a good pencil.”

When Hupper was a junior at Oceanside East High School in Rockland, she thought she wanted to become an engineer, but after visiting a number of engineering programs she realized that field was not for her. “So then we started looking at business schools. But my mom had to drag me to Maine Maritime! I didn’t think I would like the business program at Maine Maritime because I perceived it to be an engineering school. I went to the presentation about the business program and I was so blown away by how personable the professors were and by how well spoken the students in the program were. It was really impressive.”

So while many of the students at Maine Maritime Academy are focused on how to operate big ships—working in the engine room or learning to captain a vessel—business students like Hupper, she says, are “providing the people on the ships with the cargo they need.”

Hupper’s freshman year was consumed with classes on economics, accounting and business. “They really throw you right into the business part of it. We just start focusing on what it is like to run a business or be part of a business or about the economy from the very beginning.”

The first semester of Hupper’s sophomore year included a business logistics class that introduced every aspect of the subject. “That was my favorite and most difficult class,” she says with clear enthusiasm. Now every additional class she takes, such as the transportation class she is completing as her second sophomore semester draws to a close, will intensively focus on selected elements of business logistics.

A program requirement, too, is that students take a foreign language. Hupper has chosen French—partly because she took four years of French in high school, but also because, she says, “If I could, I’d love to get a logistics job in France. That’s a hard goal, I know.”

What makes it a hard goal is that Maine Maritime’s business students are required to spend 12 weeks interning with a company between their junior and senior years. Most commonly, Hupper says, that internship leads to getting a position with that company—in fact that high job placement rate, she says, is something that makes the cost of tuition at Maine Maritime well worth the expense of taking out student loans (Hupper says the scholarships she’s received, especially the Worthington Scholarship she was awarded when she graduated Oceanside East, were a big help in reducing that expense). But lining up an internship in France will probably be difficult. Hupper smiles and gives a little shrug. “I’m still going to try. Getting an internship is a lot of work no matter what—you really have to put yourself out there.”

Although working for a company in France is her dream, Hupper says she would also be happy to stay in New England—in Maine, if possible.

“There are so many job opportunities in New England and in Maine,” she points out, referencing such companies as FMC in Rockland (which processes seaweed to make carrageenan), Fisher Engineering and Bath Iron Works. “I love Maine. It is a beautiful state. And my family is here—my grandfather owned Art’s Lobsters in Tenants Harbor and all my uncles and cousins lobster and my parents met when my mother was on summer vacation at her parents’ cottage in Martinsville—so I feel really connected to the community.”

Hupper is planning on staying on an extra year at Maine Maritime Academy to get her master’s degree as well as the bachelor’s degree. By her senior year, she says, she hopes to have a job placement lined up. “Companies really want you to get your master’s degree and they will pay for it.”

There is a lot of hard work ahead of her to get her degree, Hupper acknowledges, but she says she feels confident that she has chosen the right career path for herself. Focusing on finding “the quickest, least expensive way to move a product from point A to point B,” will provide her with constant and interesting challenges—moving pencils around the globe being only one of many possibilities. —JW

PHOTO: Julie Wortman

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Crafting heirloom boards for the game he loves

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARidge Road resident Pat Conrad has been a cribbage player since about the age of 15, when his grandparents first taught him how to play. Now in his late 40s, he says he’s become a pretty good player, although the few times he’s participated in Cribbage Night at The Black Harpoon in Port Clyde, he’s flamed out in the first round. He gives a small shrug at this, noting that he really doesn’t like to play for money. But what he does like to do is make cribbage boards.

“I don’t know what I like about making them, to be honest,” he says. “Maybe it is just making a cribbage board because I love cribbage. I just really enjoy making them.”

Conrad grew up in Belfast, spent some time working in Pennsylvania and then moved to St. George about a dozen years ago, when Mike Cushman offered him a job sterning. During his time in Pennsylvania he was surprised to find very few people who were familiar with cribbage. By contrast, he notes, cribbage is popular in Maine, especially in winter. Maybe that is because the modern game, which had its origins in 17th century England, was brought to this country by English colonists who began populating this part of the country. Historians note that cribbage became a favorite pastime for sailors and fishermen, especially.

Although using a cribbage board is not essential to the game—one could keep score using pencil and paper—a board does make it possible to immediately see who is ahead and close to winning. There are also many possible board designs, both in shape and detailing.

Conrad got started making his particular style of cribbage board about five years ago. “It got into my head that I wanted to make a cribbage board, so I decided to see if I could do it. I thought it was cool and I liked it. And then they started piling up so I began giving them away—I’ve made boards for most of my family, my nieces and nephews. And now I’ve been taking commissions and selling them.”

Conrad uses the most beautiful hardwoods he can find for his boards. He’s fortunate in having a friend in fine furniture maker David Talley of Dharma Design on the Turkey Cove Road. “Dave lets me pick through his pile of discarded wood—he uses a lot of exotic wood in his furniture. In return I help him out loading or unloading furniture into and out of his van if he needs it.”

Conrad also favors detailing his boards with wire inlays of copper and silver rather than painting them. The painstaking process of drilling the peg holes, making grooves for the wire inlays (which are secured with epoxy), sanding the wood with high-grit sandpaper and applying a tongue oil finish can take as many as four eight-hour days. “You kind of get lost in it,” Conrad reflects. “You just get the music going and go with it.”

A man with a lifetime interest in history, Conrad admits that he also enjoys the possibility that his boards might someday become heirlooms. “Mostly it’s just making a cribbage board that’s going to go out into the world and, who knows, maybe someone will find it in their parents’ attic 50 years from now.”

For more information about Conrad’s cribbage boards call 207-390-0849. —JW
PHOTO: Julie Wortman

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Seiner

March historic photoA seiner built at Russell Tibbitt’s yard in Thomaston for Claude Widby of Tenants Harbor. This photo, from the Atlantic Fisherman Collection of the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine, was first published in the Atlantic Fisherman in April, 1951.

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 www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org.

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Creative play in the forest adds joy to learning

bridge WEvery Friday, Ms. Albright’s kindergarten class goes outside, “rain or shine,” on the nature trail for about 40 minutes and learns cool things about nature. This fun activity is called “Forest Friday.” Ms. Albright says they are learning how to play creatively.  One fun game they played was “Billy Goats Gruff” on a little bridge they found on the trail. Everyone got a turn to be the troll. They also pick up trash, find habitats, meet bugs, snakes and other local creatures. Ms. Albright got the idea for Forest Friday from a school in Quechee, Vermont where, a teacher named Eliza Minnucci says, “I wanted to expose my students to a complex environment in which a huge spectrum of thought, wonder, and learning were all available at once.”

Maxwell MacCaffray, left, and Miles Bartke

Maxwell MacCaffray, left, and Miles Bartke

“Thinking creatively outside of the classroom adds joy to learning,” says Ms. Albright. “The freedom of the woods allows for exploration and creativity.”  The students agree. Playing on a new “jungle gym” (which is really logs from a fallen down tree), Miles Bartke says is his favorite thing to do on Forest Friday. Molly Gill likes best the “secret path” that she found.  Parents are also excited about the program. Miles’ s mom, Ms. Bartke, says, “My little person always talks about the coolest things they do.” Ms. Gill, Molly’s mom, says, “I am so excited about Ms. Albright’s Forest Friday program. Molly comes home with wonderful stories each week. We are so fortunate to have a nature trail right at the school!”

A page from Maxwell MacCaffray’s journal

A page from Maxwell MacCaffray’s journal

When the kids are done outside, they come in and sip hot chocolate, read stories about nature, and write in their journals.

(Story written in collaboration with Ms. Albright, Allison Gill and Sophie Vigue. Gill and Vigue are 6th grade students at the St. George School.)

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St. George Sailing

7936da WSt. George Sailing is gearing up for its 16th season of sailing instruction for children age 9 and up at Blueberry Cove Camp on Harts Neck this summer. The sailors come for a half day over two weeks, with beginners attending in the morning and more advanced sailors in the afternoon. Three sessions are scheduled, starting on July 11th, July 25th, and August 8th.  There is a reduced rate for residents of St. George and the surrounding towns of Thomaston, South Thomaston, Cushing, and Spruce Head. There are also scholarships available for St. George residents. Registration information can be found on the web site at www.stgeorgesail.org, or by calling (207) 372-8174.

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St. George VANITZ

May4Vanitz2 WMay5Vanitz1 W What husband and wife team train their bird hunting dogs to sit and stay when they hear the command ‘Hup!’ ?—Susan Bates

Who’s behind the wheel? Email your answer. The first reader to respond correctly wins a free business-size ad in the print edition of The Dragon.

Jean Hewitt  identified Richard Cohen’s plate LINWOOD in April.

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Spring red as much as spring green

Serviceberry

Serviceberry

The colors and shapes of spring are unlike those any other time of the year. Summer is full and bright (hopefully); autumn is old and fiery; winter has a simple, clean palette. But spring is fresh and complex, full of rapid changes.

This is a time of emergence and growth. Buds give way to leaves, flowers. Shoots push out of the ground, striving toward the sun. Everything that has spent the winter curled up tightly against the cold unfurls and begins to stretch. The quiet of winter gives way to unceasing activity and growth.

Peony

Peony

As a gardener I do the same thing, unfurling from winter hibernation and stretching toward the sun. And oh, the tasks that can last from sun to sun, tending the garden, preparing new beds, adding compost, dividing and moving perennials, planting and sowing, raking and digging.
Yet, in spite of this head-down, full-steam-ahead activity, I can’t help but notice the wonderful shapes and colors of all the emerging plants, leaves and buds. This year, I have been struck by shades of red in the spring garden. We rightly think of spring green and various pastel colors this time of year. But red is everywhere. Look at peonies as the buds push out of the ground: They are bright red before the growing stalks and leaves turn bronze and then green. The tips of alliums as they emerge, and the edges of astrantia leaves: all in the red spectrum. Dark-red maple leaves, pinky-red oak leaves, bronzy-red serviceberry, orangey-pink blueberry. In most of these cases the red doesn’t last long and becomes green. But everywhere in the spring there are hints of red.

Sumac

Sumac

Which leads to the question of why? Why red before green in some cases? Here’s a little botany. In plants, the red color comes from anthocyanins, pigments in the plants. It turns out that these anthocyanins in the leaves and sometimes the stems of plants act as a sunscreen of sorts, protecting young plant cells from sunlight damage. The blue-green spectrum absorbs more light, which is important for photosynthesis in mature plants. So the theory out there is that many plants have evolved to have red-colored immature leaves to protect these young ones from bright sun and as a hedge against a sudden cold snap (as we often have in the spring after a warmish start to the season) that would damage green leaves whose cells have have turned toward the all-important process of photosynthesis. The plant scientists suppose that this “sunscreen” protects the cell tissues from high-light stress (called photoinhibition) thus giving them a jump on growth before they start absorbing the full spectrum of light.

There is also a theory out there that the red color might help the young leaves escape detection from browsing herbivores. If this is the case, I would like to grow only red-leaved plants to deter the deer who have found a smorgasbord of edibles in my gardens.

Those leaves are pretty clever things. Who knew? Spring red as much as spring green.
—Anne Cox (Cox is co-owner of Hedgerow in Martinsville.)

PHOTOS: Anne Cox

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Glad for the pleasures that come with keeping two of the ‘best known’ horses in St. George

Ruby, Thesis and Jane Brown

Living right on Main Street near Ripley Creek in Tenants Harbor, Thesis and Ruby are arguably among the best known horses in St. George. Their owner, Jane Brown, says that when the school bus goes by, she can hear the kids yelling “Hi, Ruby! Hi, Thesis!” And, she adds, people are always stopping by to watch them and talk to them. “When someone walks by Thesis would like to go with them,” she says with a laugh.

Brown, who was one of four sisters growing up in Cushing, has been involved with horses all her life. “We had horses when we were kids. My two older sisters had ponies and then we got our main horse, whose name was Serena. We had her for years. My dad owned a lot of wood roads and we used to ride all over back there. There was enough of an age difference among us sisters that when one would lose interest in riding, the next one would take her place. There were two or three other girls of an age who had horses so we would ride together.”

Brown moved to her Main Street property in Tenants Harbor more than 40 years ago with her then husband. “When my kids were little we had a pony named Dancer for them. Then, when my kids left home I had to get new kids and these horses are it.”

Thesis, the gray, is an off-track thoroughbred, meaning that he was once a racehorse. “He raced for several years. When he was bought as a one-year-old he cost $400,000. He was born in Kentucky and raced down in the Gulf coast area and also in Saratoga, New York.” When Thesis was retired from racing, Hillary Parker of Walnut Grove Farm on Route 131 in South Thomaston bought him.

“I had seen Thesis a bunch of times, driving by, and I thought he was gorgeous—he just caught my eye,” Brown recalls. One day nine years ago, while at the grocery store in Rockland, Brown mentioned the horse to Parker’s mother, who happened to be working there at the time. “She said, ‘Oh, he’s for sale.’ And it turned out he was very reasonably priced.”

A couple of years later Parker called and asked Brown if she would take Ruby, too. “Ruby had been born at Hillary’s family’s farm. She said Thesis was the only one Ruby could get along with, which is one of the reasons she asked us to take care of her.”

Brown has been having a trainer work with Ruby because, as she says, “she came with challenges. She was not really trained and was a little wild. You have to spend a lot of time with her because otherwise she gets bored. So you have to keep her occupied or she’s troublesome.”

Sometimes that “troublesome” behavior manifests when Ruby—often with Thesis alongside—takes advantage of an open gate to take off up the road. “I wish I had more space because they do like to get going,” Brown admits. “One time they got out and we couldn’t find them—how do you lose track of two 1,200 lb. animals? It turned out that they had headed for the big ball field and then went up the road opposite. Pretty soon Candy Davis and Mike Smith came walking them home. It is lovely to live in a small neighborhood where people know you and don’t get mad if the horses get out.”

Brown enjoys riding both horses, whether in the ring at her property or in the field by the marsh. But that is not her only reason for keeping horses. “I think I like the routine that comes with caring for animals,” she reflects. “And horses are very calming. They’re like babies. You can’t be all wound up when you are around them. You have to really let things go and be calm. When you ride you have to do the same thing. I always feel relaxed after I’m out there with them or when I ride.” After a pause, she adds with a smile, “It’s cheaper than going to a counselor.”

Another aspect of keeping horses that Brown appreciates, she says, “is the nice community of people who ride, with whom you have that commonality. I like that.”

Brown acknowledges that there is an expense to keeping horses—vet bills, hay, grain, bedding, the regular services of a farrier. “Fortunately, I sew for a lady when I’m not busy with my day job [of painting houses] and I make enough to pay for them.”

And compared to the pleasures, Brown believes, the expense is worth it. “You learn to cultivate a light heart. And, as one friend of mine puts it, there is no better sound than being in the barn and listening to horses munching on hay. Also, when I pull into the driveway there is nothing more satisfying than seeing them come running to the fence to welcome me home.” —JW

PHOTO: Julie Wortman

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First-ever business expo and job fair to be held at St. George School on April 30

Ring colorA winter conversation among members of the St. George Business Alliance (SGBA) has led to the organizing of an April 30 business expo and job fair called “Welcome Aboard” that is aimed at both raising the profile of the business environment in St. George and helping job seekers find job openings. It was at the February meeting of the SGBA that Joanne O’Shea, who with husband Michael O’Shea own and operate the Craignair Inn on the Clark Island Road, shared her experience of having difficulty finding qualified and reliable staffing during the busy summer months. Others in the group acknowledged similar problems, along with a desire to draw greater attention to the range of services available on the St. George Peninsula.

The job fair aspect of the event focuses on immediate staffing and employment needs. “Staffing is always a seasonal challenge here,” notes Rosemary Limmen, one of the “Welcome Aboard” organizers and owner of Blue Tulip Garden Boutique, Landscaping and Lodging. “This is a perfect opportunity for students and others looking for summer work or for internships to see what’s available right here in their own back yard.” Limmen adds that the organizers hope parents will bring their children, too, because the “Welcome Aboard” event could open to them a wider range of potential career, employment and home-based business opportunities in St. George. There will also be information about applying for work permits for teens looking to land their first paid job. Limmen points out that retired residents, too, might find unexpected opportunities for sharing their expertise through volunteer opportunities highlighted during the gathering.

The business expo element of the “Welcome Aboard” event is part of the SGBA’s longterm effort to increase the visibility of peninsula service providers and of hospitality and retail businesses. “We think peninsula residents who are interested in learning more about the businesses on the peninsula and what they have to offer, will find the expo helpful,” says Jodie Heal, another one of the event organizers and owner of Heal Accounting Solutions. She says that SGBA members and community leaders will also be on hand to answer questions and point to resources.

The lead sponsor of the “Welcome Aboard” Business Expo and Job Fair is SGBA affiliate member KDK Printing, Embroidery and Vinyl Graphics in Thomaston, who will be  printing and providing the event’s “Welcome Aboard” banners, posters and canvas give-away bag. SGBA member businesses are also providing door prizes for the event, which will run from 10am to 2pm. Drawings will be held at 1:30pm (winners must be present to accept their prizes). The St. George School’s 8th grade class will be selling lunch and refreshments to raise funds for their class trip and graduation events.

The SGBA is a local, non-profit trade association of businesses, individuals, civic and non-profit organizations whose mission is to promote business and cultural prosperity in St. George. Created in 2013, the organization now has over 100 members. For more information or to become a member, please contact SGBA via email or visit our website at www.stgeorgebusinessalliance.com.

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March Madness and April Foolery: Basketballbasketballbasketball!

IMG_5200 WBy Allison Gill and Josie Mathiau

This year the 21st annual Mussel Ridge basketball tournament was held at the St. George School, Friday March 18 through Sunday March 20. It is a basketball tournament for 3rd and 4th grade boys and girls  throughout the Midcoast area. The tournament is sponsored  by the St. George Recreation Department, with Mr. Ben Vail as Director, and it’s always well attended. St. George, Thomaston, Rockland, Medomak, Camden, and Cushing brought teams to compete this year.

The tournament is double-elimination, so everyone played at least two games and everyone had a lot of fun. Our teams were coached by Dan Kingsbury (boys) and Josh Miller (girls).  Natalie Gill won the t-shirt design contest this year. There were concessions in the cafeteria to keep everyone warm and well-fed.

This year the Medomak boys and the Camden girls won the tournament and went away with trophies and smiles. Runners-up were the Thomaston teams. The runners-up got medals.
Mr. Vail says, “As usual, the fabulous community support led to a very successful tournament.”

Then, on Friday, April Fools Day, it was the 8th graders’ turn to have some fun with basketball. Ten 8th graders took on some teachers, parents, grown siblings and other crazy adults dressed as “Nerds” in a free-for-all, good-clean-fun game that has become a tradition at the St. George School. It was difficult to determine exactly who won, as both sides took liberal advantage of the rules.

Karizma Chickering says, “We really won that game, but it was rigged by the adults. Mr. McPhail palmed my head and pushed me into the ground! That’s a FOUL!”

But Mr. McPhail says, “Once again we whooped the 8th graders. They accused us of cheating, but … we are just better ball players. I am a ‘baller’; Karizma is a ‘bawler’!”

The adults were coached by Mr. Josh McPhail. The students were coached by Mr. Dave Schmanska. The referees were Angie Vachon and Philip  Atwood. The 8th grade players were: Alexis Doyle, Chloe Simmons, Sadie Davis, Josie Mathiau, Karizma Chickering, Cyra Fait, Drew Minery, Chris Mathieson, Hunter Hoppe, and Jake Paulsen. Score keepers were alumni Ryan Colson and Nick Upham (both of whom have been accused of accepting bribes from the Nerds).

IMG_5091 WConcessions stands were run by other 8th graders: Greta Carlson, Jonah Carlson, Evan O’Neal, and Connor Adams. This year the proceeds from the game went towards the 8th graders’ class trip. They are planning to go to Quebec in June and this game helped them almost reach their goal to pay for it.

(Gill and Mathiau are 8th grade students at the St. George School.)

PHOTOS: Shasta Minery

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