We are now in the sixth year of the “GSB Students Investigate” collaboration between The Lincoln County News and Kelly Girard’s eighth grade language arts classes at Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta.
Similar to years past, the students kicked off their investigative journalism unit by learning about community journalism during classroom visits. The students then wrote their own investigative articles, a collection of which are published below for the enjoyment of LCN readers.
Beyond some small edits to bring the articles into Associated Press style, the articles are largely untouched to preserve the voice of the young journalists. The students turned in amazing, well-crafted articles. Those familiar with the project may even recognize a few names of interviewees.
As always, I want to thank Girard for continuing this project and her students for their interest and excellent questions.
Engaging the next generation of readers is a major focus of The Lincoln County News. If there are any other teachers out there who would like to arrange a field trip to the newspaper or have someone from the LCN come speak to your class, give us a call at 563-3171 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to accommodate the request.
The end of an era
By Caroline Allan
“Interesting, inspiring, and funny.”
These three words are what a seventh grader at Great Salt Bay Community School used to describe Mike Stenstrom. After 30 years, Stenstrom is retiring from his position teaching seventh and eighth grade science at Great Salt Bay Community School.
Over his career at GSB, Stenstrom has taught about 1,500 students and watched them grow. While he may no longer be at GSB, his legacy sure will.
Stenstrom realized he had a passion for teaching when he became a substitute teacher.
“I really liked helping children understand complex things and watching them obtain that realization of knowledge,” Stenstrom said.
Even students who have never cared for science, can’t help but pay attention to his engaging lessons.
“He has a special way of teaching and I really like how he teaches, he really explains things well. His classes might be hard and his assignments may seem like a lot, like his tests, but he is just preparing you for high school, and it’s really nice,” Charlotte Abello, an eighth grader at GSB, said when describing what it’s like in Stenstrom’s class.
Abello isn’t the only student who feels this way. In a survey sent out to the seventh and eighth grade students at GSB, 48 students responded and over 80% of kids say that Mr. Stenstrom has impacted them.
“My hope and goal is always to give students, not only a strong foundation in science, but to be prepared in terms of their academic skills, so that when they go to high school they feel there are no limits on their future,” Stenstrom said when talking about the impact he has on students.
He has done just that and much more. Most students know of Stenstrom before their time in middle school due to his no-nonsense reputation. “Scary and very strict” is what a seventh grader at GSB thought Mr. Stenstrom would be like.
“While half of that is true, he can be strict, he really does care about each and every student and just wants them to succeed. Even though he is strict it comes from a place in his heart and he just wants the best for all of us,” the student said.
Just watching him teach makes this clear. Bear Grandy, an eighth grade student at GSB recounts the first time he met Stenstrom.
“First day of seventh grade, we were walking to his class and I had said, ‘I’m scared!’ He happened to be right behind me and replied, ‘You should be.’ Now, one third of the way through eighth grade, and he’s probably my favorite teacher I’ve ever had,” Grandy said. “He’s taught me so much, and he’s made science one of my favorite subjects.”
One thing Stenstrom will miss when he retires is moments like that, interacting with students. In his retirement, he will be found working on knives for his company, Outdoorsman’s Edges, and spending more time in nature.
Stenstrom is leaving big shoes to fill at Great Salt Bay Community School, but one thing that won’t leave is the lasting impression he has had on so many people.
Alewives: One of Maine’s unsung heroes
By William “Liam” Butler
Adult alewives may only grow up to an average of 10 inches in length and live about five years, but the work they do to help maintain a healthy lake and bring revenue and tourists to our local towns is massive.
The alewives are anadromous, or sea-run, fish. These fish come back to fresh water to spawn but otherwise live in the ocean. Damariscotta Lake is the home base for local alewives and to ensure their safe passage back to spawning ground, the Damariscotta Mills fish ladder plays an integral role.
Every May, as spring finally arrives in Midcoast Maine, the alewives make their way back to Damariscotta Lake. The restored fish ladder at Damariscotta Mills allows the fish to safely reach the lake to spawn.
European settlements in what is now the state of Maine often involved damming lakes for power for mills. This altered or closed the access of alewives to their natural spawning grounds. Some communities have restored access through fish ladders or fishways. This has restored not only the alewives’ natural migration but improved the health of lakes and streams in Maine.
Alewives play a significant role in many ecosystems, including Damariscotta Lake. In both fresh and salt water, they serve as a huge food source for many animals due to their small size as both juveniles and adults. This includes lobster, as many lobstermen use alewives for bait.
According to Mark Becker, fish agent for Nobleboro and Newcastle, “some of (the lobstermen) sleep in their trucks overnight at the fish ladder so they can be first in line to get their bait once we start harvesting in the morning, and they can get out fishing right away”.
He noted that alewives are also used as bait in the halibut fishery. Lobstering is vital to the local and state economy and the alewives are part of that process.
Anthropogenic impact, pollution, or environmental change caused by human activity is increasing on Maine’s freshwater bodies. In recent years, cyanobacteria blooms have become commonplace across the Midcoast region and beyond. Cyanobacteria is present in all of Maine’s freshwater lakes and streams; however, if conditions become out of balance it can lead to a bloom which may also be toxic, posing a public health threat.
According to the Maine Department of Environment Protection, cyanobacteria blooms are caused by high levels of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, and can be amplified by warm weather. Fertilizer runoff, motor oil, pet waste, and phosphorous-rich sand and soil washed into lakes after a storm are major contributors to excess nutrients in freshwater bodies of water.
Highland Lake in Windham has seen several serious cyanobacteria blooms in recent years. Recent research on the drop of that lake’s bloom intensity is linked to the reintroduction of alewives to Highland Lake. Alewives are competition for cyanobacteria as they consume phosphorus-rich plankton, which is also a food source for cyanobacteria.
Likewise, China Lake in China has noted a sharp drop in the intensity of cyanobacteria blooms once alewives were reintroduced after more than 200 years of no access. Alewives will not stop a cyanobacteria bloom, but there is evidence that their presence may help lower the intensity of a bloom.
In recent years, cyanobacteria blooms have become an unfortunate part of summer on Damariscotta Lake. Warmer than average winters and hot, dry summers have contributed to warm lake water, as have anthropogenic activities.
“Unless someone gets the breaks on (climate change) we will have to learn to live with (cyanobacteria),” said Sharon Morrill, a 25-year resident of Damariscotta Mills. Her husband, Leigh, volunteers year-round on the fish ladder.
“Working on the fish ladder is hard work, year-round,” he said. “About 10 years ago it was around 200,000 fish on average that entered the lake, in the past five years it’s been above a million.”
The alewife, although it might be small, has a huge impact on Maine’s natural resources and economy. From contributing to the $1.5 billion lobster industry to playing a role in maintaining the health of Maine’s natural bodies of water, the alewife is one of Maine’s unsung heroes.
How does not having easy ways to practice religions affect people?
By Fiona Duffy
Within Lincoln County, many people practice some form of religion. Although the majority of Lincoln County identifies as Christian, Roman Catholic, or atheist, some of the people identify as a different religion, such as Judaism with 2%, and Muslim with less than 1%. In Lincoln County, there are no easy ways to practice these religions.
Not having an easy way to practice your religion can hurt a person, especially one in Lincoln County. Generally in Maine only 7% of the population practices a religion other than Christianity.
Before living in Lincoln County, a person’s religion could have played a major role in their lives, but when they move to Lincoln County they have almost no way to practice said religion. This may negatively affect their mental state since they are not connected to their culture and traditions. This, by extension, would mean that they had no way to talk to people with the same traditions. They could feel all alone. This could also affect people moving to Lincoln County as well as people who are staying here for an extended period of time. A lack of religious options may affect how often they come here.
Lisa Katz, a resident of Lincoln County and a practicing Jew, was asked if not having an easy way to practice her religion has affected her life in any way. Katz said that she has not been able to practice her holidays and customs very easily here. Katz said that the closest synagogue to where she lives is in Rockland, which is a 40-minute drive from Damariscotta.
When asked how often she attends the Synagogue and if the distance to it has ever affected how often she goes, Katz answered absolutely.
“When my sons went to Hebrew school there, we went more, but now that they have both left we go less,” she said.
Katz grew up in New York City and said that the Jewish population there is much larger, and is also much more recognized. There were Jewish restaurants and students got Jewish holidays off in school. Here in Lincoln County, Katz has had to ask schools to not schedule concerts or meetings that she wanted to or needed to go to on Jewish holidays.
Another thing that can come from not having a lot of people from diverse religions in an area is that many people have stereotypes about other religions, and there is no one to tell them otherwise.
Khadeejah Ahmeedah is a student studying at Lincoln Academy. Ahmeedah is Muslim and practices Islam.
When asked what stereotypes she thinks people have about her religion Ahmeedah said, “A lot of people think that girls are forced to wear a hijab in Islam, and this is not real at all. Girls in the Arabian world in general have been wearing hijab for a long time ago, and the religion only suggested a better way to wear it, some girls followed that way, some did not.”
Katz was asked the same question. Katz answered that many people used to believe that Jewish people had horns. But since there are not many people that are part of a minority religion there was no one to tell people otherwise.
When people don’t have contact with other religions, it is easy to maintain stereotypes. There are many ways that people can change this. We might not be able to convince many people to move here, but we are able to make it easier on the people who do. Some of the ways are to have schools teach more about religions, maybe even have people come in and talk about their religion. Anything that can increase people’s understanding of other religions will benefit both the residents of Lincoln County and practicing religious people.
About Thirty Acre Farm
By Asa Frost
Thirty Acre Farm is located in Bremen and produces all kinds of fermented food.
In an interview with Simon Frost, the owner of Thirty Acre Farm, he said that it all started when they had a bumper crop of cabbage they didn’t know what to do with.
“So we decided to make a few buckets of sauerkraut and people liked it,” he said.
Frost and his wife, Jane, later bought a piece of land that happened to be 30 acres, which left a lot to the imagination.
“Originally, we thought that it was a good way to use up less than perfect vegetables that weren’t as sellable, so we wouldn’t have as much waste,” Frost said. “But then, we realized that a lot of time went into cleaning up imperfect vegetables. So, we just started growing everything for the ferments.”
Fermentation is a process where microorganisms such as yeast or bacteria consume sugar and convert it into alcohol or acids. Sauerkraut is made by cutting cabbage into thin strips and fermenting it in a mixture of salt and water.
Thirty Acre Farm adds different ingredients to make a variety of flavors and textures. The fermentation process doesn’t just make the food taste better, it also adds a bunch of useful probiotics, helps digestion, and preserves the food.
However, Thirty Acre Farm doesn’t just make sauerkraut. They also make kimchi, curtido, pickles, and a variety of hot sauces. Their collection of fermented hot sauces has a range of different spiciness and flavors. Each hot sauce has a completely unique ingredient palette with various kinds of peppers. For example, Thirty Acre Farm’s Melon Head Hot Sauce is made from organic cantaloupe, organic habanero peppers, organic yellow peppers, and unrefined sea salt. This is quite different from Jalapeño Business, which is made with water, organic jalapeño peppers, organic celery, organic onions, and unrefined sea salt.
The sauerkraut is their most popular product with many different variants on sale. Some customer favorites are Ruby Kraut, made with red cabbage and onion which gives it a distinct color and taste, and Sea Kraut, which is made with organic seaweed and kelp.
At the moment, the farm has six employees including Frost. In 2022, Frost says they grew 200,000 pounds of cabbage and made 150,000 pounds of sauerkraut and that the number is growing every year. Thirty Acre Farm has an average of 4.2 stars and multiple reviews like, “Curtido is incredible and feels GREAT to eat” and, “Best store-bought hot kimchi I’ve ever had” on Google.
Thirty Acre Farm is a small business that makes tasty fermented products. Try some of their many flavors of sauerkraut, hot sauce, and more, or check out some of the recipes using their products on their website.
If you like delicious food or just want to try something new and good for you, go and find some Thirty Acre Farm products at your local Whole Foods, Hannafords, health food store, or on the Thirty Acre Farm website at thirtyacrefarm.com.
Would Damariscotta and Newcastle benefit from an outdoor recreational area?
By James Hanley
Outdoor recreational areas include basketball courts, tennis courts, central playground/parks, skate parks, etc. In Damariscotta/Newcastle, there are barely any outdoor places to play and hang out for people, besides the local YMCA’s playground and the Great Salt Bay Community School playground. If Damariscotta/Newcastle had a recreational area, many people would benefit from it, including high schoolers, middle schoolers, and adult citizens of the community.
“I hear from children and adults who all want more space in Damariscotta and Newcastle to be active! As a parent, there should be more areas to play for all people,” said Maine Rep. Lydia Crafts.
On the flip side, building a recreational area would be a hard task to pull off. The towns of Damariscotta/Newcastle would have to have a nice open area and enough money to fund the project as well as to hire labor and construction workers.
Even though it would be expensive, it may be worth the cost for the community. There are the basketball courts at the YMCA, but people who want to go play need a YMCA membership. Some people may not have enough money to pay each month, but still want to play sports and be active.
There is no alternative to the YMCA that doesn’t cost money, and everyone wants a place to play and hang out, especially if they love being active.
Most outdoor areas can be really expensive. According to angi.com, the cost of a full-size middle school court is $31,000, and a high school full court being $41,000. There is a half court option, being $21,000 for high school, and $15,500 for middle school courts. For a tennis court, according to homeadvisor.com, the national average is $15,465. Construction and labor also has to be included as well.
For an area, the town would have to find a flat, grassy area, and pay landscapers to renovate it. According to sportprosusa.com/, construction for a basketball court would take four to six weeks, and around the same time for other areas.
Then again, an outdoor recreational area could benefit the people that love to be active and play sports. Instead of having to pay for the YMCA, they could just drive into town to play!
From a poll, around 93% of 43 seventh and eighth graders at Great Salt Bay Community School think it would be beneficial to install a recreational area to play and be active in. Some state that would be a good idea, so people can spend more time outdoors, and places like this would be nice for kids to socialize, and hang out.
If these areas can be built, citizens of Damariscotta/Newcastle will be able to partake in activities they enjoy, for free! People would also be able to get active and be outdoors more often, burning calories and having fun. According to captaincalculator.com, the average person burns around just around six hundred calories per hour of playing basketball, 358 calories per hour of skateboarding, and 575 to 775 for playing a match of tennis per hour.
Seeing all this evidence, it would be a great idea for Damariscotta/Newcastle to install one of these areas for people to play, be active, and hang out!
“First, you have to get people to support the movement from the towns,” Crafts said. “People will have to go to select board meetings and start a large petition. Lastly, you have to get money to do this. The money should be a mix of private town dollars, and people’s donations to the cause.”
If you think Damariscotta/Newcastle should have an outdoor recreational area, sign the petition now! Go on any of the online devices in the house, and visit change.org. Search the title, “Help the area of greater Damariscotta have outdoor recreational areas today!” Then click, “Sign petition.” If we get enough signatures, this dream for many people can come true!
Why doesn’t Lincoln Academy have a running track?
By Bear Grandy
In recent years, track and field and cross country have seen a dramatic increase in popularity, especially at Lincoln Academy, which has recently seen record numbers of students joining these sports. All this popularity, but no running track for the school?
Lincoln Academy, a private high school located in Newcastle, offers a wide variety of sports, including track and field. Surprisingly, the school lacks a full-size running track, which makes it hard for the team to practice specific events, such as the 100-meter dash. This also means that the team must make the commute to Wiscasset to use a regulation-size track. Having a track could not only allow the team to have an easier time practicing, but could also provide locals with a safer way to get their afternoon jogs in, instead of on the side of the road.
In 2015, according to The Lincoln County News, Lincoln Academy received an anonymous donation of $750,000 to “pay for construction of a turf field and jump-start efforts to build new baseball and softball fields and a new track.”
Seven years later, everything is completed, except for the track. What happened? The most likely answers to that question are either a lack of funding or lack of space. It is possible that there wasn’t enough space, and Lincoln Academy decided to scrap the idea, but it could also be that the cost of both leveling the land and building the track was over budget.
In the article, Lincoln had said that they had planned a $3.5 million athletics plan, which included all of the fields. Most of the time, projects such as a running track often go far over budget.
Two students from Great Salt Bay Community School, both of which are planning to do track and field at Lincoln, were asked a few questions. When asked if Lincoln should have a track, both students said yes, adding that it would be a great addition to the school’s athletic offerings. The students also said that having a track would greatly improve their experience by allowing them to train and stay competitive, just like the other teams, except without having to drive to Wiscasset
On the subject of Wiscasset, both students said that driving there and back was a big waste of time and money. If Lincoln did have a regulation-size track that would also mean that there would be home meets. The students said that a home meet would make them more motivated to succeed, and also reduce their stress. This is because more people they knew would be able to attend and root for them.
When asked how often the students would use the track outside of practice, one said that they would use it twice a week, the other said they would use it as much as possible. The students also said that having a track could greatly benefit the public. Younger runners, such as Great Salt Bay students would have a place nearby to train and get a good exercise in, and the general public could use it as a way to track their distance easier. Also, a track is much safer than running on the side of a road.
Having a track in town could not only benefit Lincoln Academy students and Great Salt Bay track members, but it could also help the general public by giving them a safe place to run that can also help you track your distance.
Why Lincoln Academy should have a new performing arts center
By Katelyn Prior
Lincoln Academy currently has the Parker B. Poe black box theater for a performing arts center, which is also shared by Heartwood Regional Theater Co. This building has existed for a long time, but its original purpose was not to be a theater. It actually used to be Lincoln Academy’s cafeteria, which is why it doesn’t have the characteristics of an auditorium and no storage for musical instruments. Hence, why it’s time for a change.
The Parker B. Poe Theater is currently used as an auditorium and a band and orchestra rehearsal room downstairs. There is not enough storage space for all the instruments and no dressing rooms. Most of the students and adults that perform there change in small bathroom stalls and closets located downstairs. Also the orchestra and band concerts are held at the Damariscotta Baptist Church instead of at the school because the stage in the theater isn’t big enough for all of them.
A survey was sent out to nine students and two teachers at Great Salt Bay that have been involved in some way with theater at Lincoln Academy. Seven responded with informational answers. The survey asked if a new performing arts center would be a good idea to build or renovate the existing theater. 80% said yes and the rest thought it was a good idea but were worried about the budget.
Caroline Roberts, one of the students surveyed who has participated in Heartwood productions before, said that she was familiar with the theater’s lack of space. She suggested that there should be dressing rooms so that all of the actors in productions wouldn’t have to change their costumes in bathroom stalls and closets.
Cathy Campbell, a spectator of Heartwood and Lincoln Academy’s productions and has acted herself, noticed that it can be quite claustrophobic in the small space, especially in the far back rows of seating. She also suggested that there should be more bathrooms because the theater currently only has two.
Beth Preston, the music director and vocal coach for most productions done at the theater, said that there have been many plans over the last 25 years for a new performing arts center. These have been put off as long-range plans, but there is still not a guarantee by the Lincoln Academy board.
Heidi Kopishke, the costume designer for most of the theater’s productions, was enthusiastic about the new performing arts center proposal. She also brought up a question about the money donated for the building’s renovation. Kopishke wanted to know what this money went to, since there had been no changes made to the building since the money was donated.
From these suggestions it is clear that the Parker B. Poe Theater should be improved upon or a new building should be constructed. There should be a bigger stage so that the band can perform at the school, a backstage so that there are more possibilities for directing theater productions (also so that there is more space), dressing rooms so that actors can change quickly and efficiently, more/safer storage for instruments, and more/ better bathrooms upstairs.
Of course not all of these changes are in budget but it would be nice for the students at Lincoln Academy, audience members, and Heartwood if some of these changes were made. It would encourage more kids to join the performing arts and introduce them to new friends and experiences.
In support of outdoor recreational space for Damariscotta
By George Siegel
Outdoor recreational spaces are beneficial for towns because they provide a place for people to exercise, get outside, and stay healthy for free.
Getting outside and moving around is extremely beneficial to human health. Being active outside for just 30 minutes can strengthen your heart, prevent heart diseases, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol, and boost your immune system. Encouraging and providing activity for children can also lead to better test scores, better cognitive abilities, and reduced signs of ADHD. Getting outside is so important that many doctors prescribe outdoor activity to children.
Outdoor spaces do not only benefit health, either. With the world rapidly becoming more and more accessible online, parks encourage communities to congregate and connect with one another in person. An outdoor park and recreation area can be a place for many things. A court for teenagers to play basketball, a safe place for people to walk dogs, and a relaxing, clean outdoor space for anyone to use.
While there is the CLC YMCA, which is a recreational space, it is very expensive. Adult and children memberships at the YMCA has a join fee with a monthly rate. There is also an option for a family rate. If you are a parent who needs a place for their children after school, it might be too much money, and you will most likely prefer a free outdoor option.
According to a recent survey of 41 eighth graders at Great Salt Bay, around 75% of them would like to have an outdoor recreation area in Damariscotta. Of those people, around 55% of them would have personal benefits from the recreational area. When asked what they would use it for, many responded that they would use it for exercise and outdoor time, as well as a place to go with friends and family.
In an interview, Damariscotta Selectman Andrea Keushguerian said “I think the town would benefit from an outdoor recreational space because it is very important for students to have a safe space to gather, it creates community among all of our residents to have happy children in our village. I also very strongly believe that children should be outside playing and off of their devices, and this would be a perfect way to engage children to get more exercise.”
An outdoor space would also encourage new friendships. When asked if the outdoor space would still be put to use even though there are many retired people in Damariscotta, Keushguerian said, “I believe it would encourage younger parents with younger children to move here, which is what our village needs.”
This outdoor space would help the whole town, not just the people who use it. With an outdoor recreational space in town, more young people would come here to live. This would lead to more employees for businesses, and more people would be attracted to the town.
Based on the facts and benefits, do you think that there should be an outdoor recreational space in Damariscotta? Would you benefit from one? Do you think that it is important for Damariscotta to have outdoor spaces for people to use instead of being inside on their screens, and being inactive? Have these facts changed your mind?
Small businesses vs. big box stores in Lincoln County
By Sofia Michaud
Lincoln County is home to an abundance of small businesses but very few big box chain stores. This term is used for a store like Target, Walmart, or Home Depot.
There are many pros and cons about small business and big chain stores. Big chain stores have more variety and items, whereas small businesses are limited. When traveling to a box store it takes approximately an hour to get there from Lincoln County, which is very time consuming.
If chain stores were in Lincoln County you would not be using so much gas, therefore saving money, but if chain stores were in Lincoln County then our small business owners would lose sales, resulting in a loss of jobs in our area.
Also, box stores could bring in more people from out of town, taking away from the small town vibe.
Bear Grandy, an eighth grader at GSB, participates in sports and has insight on schedules with extracurricular activities. When asked if the hour plus drive to chain stores bothered him, Grandy said, “I have practice every day, so I have to go on the weekends, and then my weekend is reduced, and it’s an hour drive each way.”
Grandy also brought a money view into the picture as well. “It would be more convenient to have them here. It reduces how much gas you use, which saves money.”
Gas is very expensive right now, so that is a valid point.
During another interview another student said that they hated the drive to Target, Walmart, and other big box stores because of the distance. Small businesses have been in the Lincoln County community for a long time now. According to renys.com, Renys has been around since 1949, Fernald’s has been around since 1990, and Waltz Soda Fountain has been around since 1948. These businesses are unique and not where everyone else lives.
In a Google form survey of eighth graders attending Great Salt Bay Community School, 26 people were surveyed and 76.9% of people said they would prefer to go to a big box store instead of a small business. A lot of people also said that they would like a chain store in Lincoln County because it would be easier, save time, and bring more selection in the area.
But some people did not agree, stating that it would cause too much traffic or be too expensive.
There is a lot to weigh over in considering the addition of big box stores in Lincoln County. If big box chain stores were to move into Lincoln County, there would be more variety for shoppers, quicker access and convenience for local community members, and it would offer more employment opportunities for people who live around here.
On the other hand, where we live has a small town charm which is one of the reasons why people from all over the country come and visit. On top of this, our small town businesses do not overwhelm the scenery like big box stores would, and our local business owners would lose money which would cause them to go out of business.
There is a lot to keep in mind when considering chain stores moving into Lincoln County.
What is it like being a volunteer firefighter in Damariscotta?
By Lily Pinkham
The volunteer firefighters of Damariscotta go through challenging and exciting things. Whether it’s a car crash, a structure fire, fire alarm, even a squirrel in a tree, but each one can vary.
When you first join you don’t need a lot of experience, just heart and dedication. These people will become your second family, and learn to trust them with your life. Whenever people need help, they are always there for you in and out of work. These firefighters are always supporting and trying their hardest to protect our community.
According to Chris Hilton, a captain and training officer also known as “Damariscotta Fire Seven” on the pager that you are given to be alerted when there is a call, and Jacob Pinkham, “Damariscotta Fire Thirty-One,” “on your way to a call, you need to mentally prepare yourself on what you are about to do. It is different for every situation.”
Pinkham also said when being on scene, “It really all depends, because no scenes are ever the same, it can be stressful, it can be sorrowing, it can be frightening. Or sometimes it can be something simple, it could be energetic, it all depends.”
Hilton goes on to say, “Each call and each scene is completely different,” which shows it is never boring, you’re never not doing something different. Normally there is never a repeat of each call.
These firemen are always ready and able to put themselves in fatal and terrifying situations. On their way to a call, they have to put all the worst and best thoughts in their head so when they get there they are mentally and physically prepared. Who knows you could be pulling a body out of a burning building or you could be helping someone calm down.
“It comes with the job … and it is always fun with the adrenaline rush,” Pinkham said.
“You need to be willing to put the community first and to help other people, and to want to make a difference in the community,” Fire Chief John Roberts said.
Most of the men in the department are self employed so it is easier to make it to a call during the day.
“Being self employed like I know I am, many of the other people in the fire department in Damariscotta are,” Hilton said. “And I think it’s a benefit and keeping me wanting to be a volunteer firefighter is having the ability to leave work and go if we get a call and go help versus working for an employer or a company that does not allow you to get away as easily.”
Volunteer firefighters said the people you work with and just overall help the community is the reason for doing it. Volunteer firefighters don’t get paid very well; it’s just above minimum wage. The firefighters will go out of their way to make sure everybody is safe and calm. In almost every fire truck they have some sort of toy or gift to give out to distract you from the terrible things you can go through. They are all super understanding and are there to listen and help.
“Sometimes I have a personal challenge. It’s easier to deal with knowing that other people have gone through much worse,” Roberts said.
Just knowing that you are dealing with something there is always someone who has/had it worse, since the Damariscotta Fire Department runs off the motto “Protecting the community with pride since 1875.”