Category Archives: September 27

Launching a new school fund aimed at ‘Gee, we wish we could do that!’

Cecil White programs the movements of a SunFounder PiCar-V Smart Video Car Kit in the St. George School’s Makerspace. From left to right: Adrien Williams (8th grade), Paul Meinersmann (Technology/ Makerspace Director), Cecil White (7th grade), Amy Palmer (STEAM Educator—STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics).

It was a fortuitous circumstance that when, three years ago, Mike Felton accepted the post of Superintendent of the new St. George Municipal School Unit and moved his family to St. George, the family didn’t immediately have a place to live. Fortuitous because otherwise Martinsville summer residents Tom and Cathy Tinsley might not have been inspired to take leadership in creating the new St. George School Fund administered by the St. George Community Development Corporation (CDC).

“Rob Snyder from the Island Institute called us to ask if the Feltons could stay in our cottage for six weeks while they arranged for housing, so we got to know them,” Tom Tinsley explains. “They also became friends with our oldest daughter who had also gone to Bowdoin at about the same time as Mike. So we started following what was going on in the school because otherwise, as summer residents, we would have been less likely to get engaged in that.”

Still, both Tinsleys have a history of caring about quality education, which made them particularly receptive to learning about Felton’s ambitions for the newly independent school district.

“My father was a university professor and my mother served as an elected official on the school board in Houston,Texas, during the time of court-ordered desegregation and so public education has always been important to how we think about things,” Tom Tinsley explains.

In Cathy Tinsley’s case, education has been her volunteer focus for many years. “I’m pretty passionate about innovative education,” she says. “My personal passion has to do with international education, international experiences as you’re getting educated, but basic education is what you build on.”

What particularly interested both of the Tinsleys was Felton’s desire to make the kindergarten-through-8th-grade school experience in St. George “world class.”

“That’s important to the people living down here whether they live year round or are summer people,” Tom Tinsley says. And St. George, the couple felt confident, couldn’t be better suited for such an enterprise.

Cathy and Tom Tinsley

“The things that have impressed me about St. George are the number of very high-quality non-profit community organizations here that focus on this community,” Cathy Tinsley says. “And when Mike was staying here I took him aside and said, ‘If you don’t bring to bear what Herring Gut and Trekkers and the library and the people here who are so motivated to make this a better place, then you’re really missing an opportunity.’ But, of course, since Mike had this experience of teaching on an island, on Vinalhaven, he understood it’s an all-hands-on-deck kind of project.”

It was the formation of St. George’s CDC last year that prompted the Tinsleys to explore the possibility of benefitting the St. George School in some way—an early idea was setting up something on the model of Donors Choose—because it seemed the new entity might provide an ideal vehicle through which to work.

“So I went to Mike and said, ‘If we raise some extra-budgetary money that you could ask for for the school, would that be helpful?’” Tom recounts. “And Mike told me the story of Wick Skinner who had come to him and said, ‘I’m going to give you $15,000 and I want you to choose a project where you think there’s a 50 percent chance of failure. So I don’t want this to be gas money for the bus, I want this to be something that might change what you do at the school and you wouldn’t otherwise do it because you can’t afford the risk.’”

Skinner’s grant to the school, which came via Skinner’s Mainstream Fund at the Maine Community Foundation, launched the school’s “Makerspace Initiative.”

“Wick originally approached the school in the spring of 2016 to discuss innovative education ideas,” Felton says. “He was interested in ideas that would stretch our collective imagination as to what was possible in public education. We had started our Makerspace with a 3D printer that was donated by the Perloff Family Foundation in late April of 2016. With less than two months of school left in that year and no prior knowledge of 3D printing, we were able to successfully complete projects with students in the second grade (hand-drawn lobsters) and seventh grade (designed and tested the strength of different types of bridges). This experience got a lot of people excited about the potential to do more Makerspace activities and incorporate them into existing classroom plans. The funding from Wick’s Mainstream Fund, along with matching funds raised within our community, has allowed the St. George School Makerspace to grow and adapt to opportunities and challenges.”

Acquisition of a laser cutter, for example, opened up new areas of creative exploration by both students and staff. In addition, the purchase of Sphero SPRK+ robotic balls has made it possible to introduce students to algorithmic thinking and problem-solving. Other purchases have helped support individual students who benefit from more concentrated time in the Makerspace.

Excited by the opportunities for innovation the Makerspace Initiative illustrated, the Tinsleys began working with Rob and Margot Kelley, founders of the new CDC, on a school fund that would be overseen by the CDC.

“It took about a year for the CDC to work with Mike and the school board on the parameters of how this would occur,” Tom Tinsley explains. “So now there’s a three-person board that includes Rob and Don Carpenter and one other person. The objective is to have about $50,000 in the fund each year. We chose $50,000 because that is 1 percent of Mike’s budget, which is $5 million. So it’s not a lot of money relative to what he normally spends, but it is the $50,000 that you don’t have. And then Mike will identify projects and then go to this little board and the board says yes or no.”

The Tinsleys sent out a letter inviting contributions to the new St. George School Fund at the end of July. By mid-September donations had amounted to $28,000, more than half of the $50,000 goal.

“The school is educating about 200 kids from the community and then they are transporting 90 kids to high schools, so that’s what the budget covers,” Tom Tinsley notes. “So key is identifying things that are within the K-through-8 curriculum where they need a little extra push. To fund three or four things a year—the ‘Gee, I wish we could do that!’ sort of projects that they otherwise couldn’t fund—should be fun to watch.”

Cathy Tinsley agrees, returning to her point about public education being an all-hands-on-deck proposition. “These things that bring the CDC, the school, people from away and the local people all together has just seemed like a natural thing to support. The impetus is coming from the local crowd, but the opportunities to plug into some very sophisticated stuff seems like a fresh possibility.” —JW

(Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the St. George School Fund should send a check payable to the St. George Development Corporation and memo it for the St. George School Fund. The CDC address is PO Box 160, Tenants Harbor, ME 04860. Felton will provide the community with updates during the year on how the funds are being used on behalf of the school.)

PHOTOS: Top, St. George School; below, Julie Wortman

Historical society to present program on businesses of Port Clyde Sept. 27

On Thursday, September 27th at 7pm, the St. George Historical Society will present a program about the businesses of Port Clyde at the Port Clyde Baptist Church. It will be a general overview of businesses and should provide a foundation for more programs in the future about more specific businesses, such as the factories, fishing industry, stores, etc.

People attending the event will hear questions, and hopefully some answers, about the best place to get penny candy, the local places to eat, the favorite menu items, the boat builders, the ship builders, who cut hair, were there gas stations, AND where did they park all the cars when the factory was running?

Do you have some stories and maybe some pictures of Port Clyde businesses to share? What is your favorite story about the General Store, Alma Heal or the Seacoast Ramblers playing at the Driftwood on weekends? We learn about and preserve the history of our town by sharing these stories and pictures.

Hope to see you there!—John Falla

Requests for energy-saving window inserts due Oct. 1

The St. George Grange chapter of the statewide Window Dressers program will be accepting requests for energy-saving window inserts it will be completing at its community workshop up until Oct. 1.

The window inserts improve heat retention during the winter and help keep interiors cooler in the summer by preventing the draft of warm air seeping in and allowing the cool air from the evening to last longer.

Contact Barbara Anderson for more information at 975-5967 or pbpanderson@gmail.com.

A taste of the pelagic

Nature bummin’ with Kirk Gentalen

Greater Shearwater

There’s a whole ‘nuther world out there. Out there on the water, past the islands—Metinic, Matinicus, and Monhegan—and further than the sunrise horizon. It’s the “pelagic” world of the Gulf of Maine and beyond, where animals are adapted to an oceanic lifestyle and sightings of land are less frequent than visuals of whales.

I recently joined Captain John Drury on board his boat, “Skua,” for a 12-hour voyage to get just “a taste of the pelagic.” We headed out from Vinalhaven Island for “11-mile ledge”—an underwater, topographical ledge system located south of Matinicus Island and Matinicus Rock. And while the pelagic world is vast—a little too vast for some people—ledge systems such as the “11-mile ledge” create habitats very attractive for pelagic wildlife. And it’s all about the food!

Oversimplifying a little, “upwelling” is a phenomenon that occurs when deep, cold, nutrient-rich waters riding underwater currents hit ledges (such as “11-mile ledge”) and are re-directed towards the surface. The cold water rises, bringing the nutrients with it and inspiring food chains from plankton blooms all the way through predators such as shearwaters, gannets and whales. The waters above such ledges become feeding stations for wildlife as well as a destination for those humanoids hoping to observe pelagic wildlife—and Captain Drury and I were not disappointed on this fine September day!

The most numerous sea birds we observed (other than herring and great black-backed gulls) were two species of Phalaropes—both the Red-necked (Phalaropus lobatus) and the Red (Phalaropus fulicarius). Living oxymorons—pelagic shorebirds?—these two phalaropes are Sandpipers (Family Scolopacidae), that breed in the northern reaches on North America. They take to the ocean once breeding season is done, overwintering at sea. To help with this pelagic lifestyle, Phalaropes have partially lobed feet for swimming and dense plumage for warmth. They are also known for their classic behavior of literally “spinning in circles” on the water. Through the spinning, Phalaropes create their own small currents which bring food closer to the surface where they can get it. It’s always fun to see shorebirds floating in the middle of nowhere!

Razorbill dad and youngster

And while the phalaropes are unique within the shorebird universe, we also had great sessions with members of a couple of classic sea bird groups. The Alcidae is a fun bird family that locally includes Atlantic Puffin, Black Guillemots and Razorbills. These birds, called Alcids, “fly” underwater, flapping their wings in graceful pursuit of fish. In the air, Alcids flap like “crazy” in order to keep their rounded, hydrodynamic bodies alight. Above the 11-mile ledge individual adult Puffins could be seen with fish in their bills for this year’s young. For another Alcid, Razorbills, it’s the dad that takes the lead in raising the youngster once it leaves the den. This favorite Alcid parenting technique was easily observed as several father/youngster Razorbill pairs–floating together for over a month at this point–were bobbing their way in search of the next feeding opportunity.

Members of the avian order Procellariiformes are (lovingly) referred to as “tubenoses,” in reference to the nostril tubes these birds have on top of their bills. The birds use the nostrils, called “naricorns,” to smell (an uncommon sense in the bird world) and to release salt after drinking ocean water. That’s right, Procellariiformes drink salt water (ain’t no fresh water in the pelagic zone!) and with the use of a salt gland just behind the bill, can extract the salt from the water and then release the salt through the naricorn. Salty boogers for sure, but a wonderful adaptation for the pelagic lifestyle.

On this day we “bagged” (not literally) four tubenoses, a trifecta of shearwaters–Sooty, Greater, and Cory’s–and many Wilson’s Storm Petrels. For a little more perspective, the Sooty and Greater Shearwaters, as well as the Wilson’s Storm Petrels, all breed on islands thousands of miles away off the southern tips of Africa and South America. They truly have come a long, long way to feed above the 11-mile ledges.

Atlantic White-sided Dolphin

Plenty of Harbor Seals and Harbor Porpoise were also to be seen and we crossed paths with a Minke Whale as it steamed away to different waters. The marine mammal highlight, however, was the 30 or so Atlantic White-sided Dolphins (AWSD) we hooked up with in the earlier part of the day. Calm, clear seas made the session exceptional as both humans and dolphins bombed towards each other upon first long-distance sighting. The AWSD made pass after pass by the boat, so close and so often we became familiar with individual dolphins, identifying them by nicks and cuts on their dorsal fins. Several calves were mixed in the group, which seemed to spend as much time watching us as we spent freakin’ out about how awesome this experience was. Nice to get this out of the way early, the rest of the day was a bonus as far as we were concerned.

Those with boats or who work on boats are undoubtedly familiar with the pelagic zone, or at least have crossed paths with some of the players out there. You are the lucky ones, because I for one can never get enough of the pelagic lifestyle, where life can be thick and I am always a visitor. If you have a boat and ever need a spotter–let me know! And then we’ll see you out there!

PHOTOS: Kirk Gentalen

Colson gives town additional funds for scholarship fund

Ralph “Bud” Colson presents a check for $50,000 to Town Manager Tim Polky to further endow the Ralph and Frances Colson Scholarship Fund on September 12. Colson also presented the town with the seagull sculpture by renowned decoy and relief-carving artist Carl Malmstrom that Malmstrom had given Frances Colson when she opened The Seagull Lunch restaurant in Rockland in the early 1970s. Kevin Solsten (right) built the wood display shelf and Peter Achorn (left) lettered the dedication.

On September 12, Ralph “Bud” Colson, 89, presented St. George Town Manager Tim Polky with a check for $50,000 to further endow the scholarship he and his late wife Frances created 15 years ago.

Colson, who was born and raised in Rockland, met Frances, a native of Long Cove, while he was playing the jukebox at Rockland’s Paramount Restaurant. He was 17 and she had just graduated from St. George High School. “She asked if I would give her and her girlfriend a ride home to St. George,” Colson happily recalls. “I said, ‘Sure, I’ll give you a ride home,’ and that was it!”

During much of his working life Colson was employed by the O’Hara Corporation in Rockland, although he also tried his hand at fishing, scalloping, carpentry, masonry and electrical work. “I like to work,” Colson says, “just like my wife. She worked just as hard as I did.”

In the 1970s Frances Colson started a restaurant on Tilson Avenue in Rockland called The Seagull Lunch. To mark the opening, the renowned decoy and relief-carving artist Carl Malmstron, a friend and neighbor from Long Cove, gave her the sculpture of a seagull which Ralph Colson also presented to the town on September 12. Frances ran The Seagull Lunch for 10 years, then converted it into a shrimp-processing business which she ran for another five years or so, processing 30,000 lbs. of shrimp a day.

Together the couple bought Wildcat lobster pound in 1985, where Frances ran a seafood takeout window. That same year the couple moved from Long Cove into a house on Haskell Point where Colson still lives. The couple was married for 71 years.

The idea for setting up a scholarship fund came to the Colsons about 15 years ago, Colson says. “We’d done well, so we talked and we thought we might do something nice so we decided on the scholarship. Education is good and I didn’t get the chance although I don’t think I could have done any better. We certainly had a lot going for us—it’s been a good life.”

With this gift, the principal of the Frances and Ralph Colson Scholarship Fund now amounts to $116,000. The scholarships go to successful applicants who are St. George residents who have graduated from an approved secondary school and will attend a technical school, college or university. Recipients must take a minimum of two classes per semester while maintaining a minimum of a C average. An Award Committee appointed by the Select Board makes the awards.

PHOTO: Betsy Welch

“What’s in a name?” 6th grade poets respond

“What’s in a name?”
by Anya Felton  (Anya, Russian, “Bringing Goodness”)

My brother thinks my name means, “Annoying sister who tattles on me.”
My mom thinks my name means, “Mini me.”
My dad thinks my name means, “Girl who likes weird music.”
My cat thinks my name means, “The girl who brings me food” and “My
warm pillow.”
My rabbit Snooper-Pooper thinks my name means, “The one who grabs
me one minute and is petting me the next.”
The boys in my class think my name means, “The girl who doesn’t like
gym and sports very much.”

I think they forgot some things.
I think my name means, “Dreams of living on a farm in Vinalhaven” and
“Loves nothing more than to sit and read by the fire with my family
on a cold winter night.”

“What’s in a name?”
by Natalie Gill   (Natalie, Greek, “born at Christmas, sunrise”)

My mom thinks my name means, “Mag.…Moll…. I mean Alis…..
NATALIE!”
My dad thinks my name means, “Save all the chatter about the play
until after the game.”
My sisters think my name means, “Nice, but needs to work on her temper.”
My cat thinks my name means, “Person who doesn’t care if I walk on her
in the middle of the night.” (Believe me, I care.)
My other cat thinks my name means, “Person who opens the door for me
and sweeps up all the food I spill.”
My friend thinks my name means, “Very creative and has an open mind.”
My other friend thinks, “Can’t get to school on time.” (All of my teachers
agree.)

I think they forgot some things.
Like, “Mermaid on the inside,” and “Loves to draw and write.”

“What’s in a name?”
by Hannah Leavitt   (Hannah, Hebrew, “Favor, Grace”)

My mom thinks my name means “One who loves math and
doesn’t like to get out of bed.”
My dad thinks my name means, “Builder of robots and the sibling
who is better at chores.”
My sister thinks my name means, “One who bothers me while I am
trying to sleep.”
My Nana thinks my name means, “Youngest of all the cousins, but
the smartest.”
My Guapo thinks my name means, “Grand-daughter who laughs at
my jokes even when they’re not funny.”
My puppy thinks my name means, “The human who scratches my
belly.”
My dentist thinks my name means, “Child who needs braces, but
does not want them.”
My friends think my name means, “Creative, good at math, and
very good at ponytails.”

There are so many things they’re missing about me, like, “Loves sports” and “Likes to cook” and “Not a big fan of reading” and last, but not least, “One who needs everything to be perfect.”

“What’s in a name?”
Acrostic Poem
by Julian Davis  (Julian, Latin, “Youthful”)

Just a junk magnet
Unique
Loves to collect
Interesting stuff
A collector of many things
Nothing more than me!

Letter

“Sal’s Birthday Bash” fundraiser for the St. George Ambulance Service on August 25th was a big success [almost $5,000 was raised]. I would like to thank the St. George Fire Dept. for the use of their tent and facilities, the musicians from the Monday and Tuesday night music jams for the entertainment, and Dewayne Wight for the sound system. I thank Tim Polky for the pig. I would also like to thank Tim Polky, Randy Elwell and crew for roasting and carving the pig. I thank Rick Freeman and friends for roasting and carving the chickens. Thank you family and friends who made side dishes and deserts. I thank the St. George Odd Fellows for donating baked beans. Thank you to Cheryl, Melanie and the kitchen crew for the great job they did. I would also like to thank Walmart, Hannaford and Dunkin’ Donuts. A BIG THANK YOU to all who donated to the St. George Ambulance Service.
Thank you and see you next year,
Sally Long (95 years young)

Lighthouse ground-breaking

On Wednesday, September 12 at 9:30 am the Marshall Point Lighthouse and Museum broke ground to begin building the Keeper’s Barn and Workshop, a reproduction of the original barn and workshop built on the same site around the turn of the 20th century. Marshall Point Lighthouse and Museum worked with the Maine Historical Society to ensure that techniques and materials would mirror those of the original barn, which the Coast Guard removed in 1971. The volunteer committee which maintains the lighthouse grounds and facilities is excited about restoring this feature to the campus as part of a continuing effort to provide visitors with resources regarding the history of the lighthouse and the St. George peninsula.

PHOTO: Betsy Welch