This is the third year The Lincoln County News has collaborated with Kelly Girard and her eighth-grade language arts classes at Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta, and the GSB Students Investigate program continues to grow stronger with each year.
Similar to years past, the students kicked off their investigative journalism unit by learning about community journalism during classroom visits. They later visited The Lincoln County News during the printing of the newspaper and spoke with members of the LCN team about the process and other aspects of working at the company.
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 articles are fantastic, and cover a wide range of topics in our community and beyond.
As always, I want to thank Girard for continuing this project and her students for their interest, their excellent questions, and the very well-written thank you cards.
Engaging our 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 email@example.com and we’ll do our best to accommodate the request.
Childhood lead poisoning in Maine
By Audrey Hufnagel
Do you live in an old house? Do you have young children? Lead poisoning could be a risk for your family, and you might not even know it.
Childhood lead poisoning is a big issue in Maine. It is most commonly caused by children ingesting (breathing or eating) lead paint chips or lead dust, which then builds up in their bloodstreams and can make them sick. Lead poisoning can cause serious issues for children, especially 1- and 2-year-olds. These issues include slowing down development and learning, and in serious cases, death. There is no cure. If a child has lead poisoning, the only way to prevent it from getting worse is to remove lead from the house or apartment.
Paint companies stopped putting lead in their products in 1950, so any house built before then could contain lead. According to the Comparative Assessment of Lead Poisoning Screening Practices in Maine and New England, a study done to support the case for universal screening, 29.8% of all Maine houses were built before 1950. That means that 29.8% of Maine houses could contain lead in their paint. This includes apartment buildings where many families live. Slightly more than half of children in Maine live in counties where a quarter of the houses were built before 1950, and 25% of houses in Lincoln County were built before that time.
To identify lead poisoning, children must be screened for lead. It is recommended that all 1- and 2-year-olds get screening. Getting screened for lead is a simple process. A child can get a small sample of blood drawn, which is then sent away to be tested. This test can happen at a lab, but it can also be done during a “well child” visit at the doctor’s office.
Many parents, however, don’t get their child screened. In fact, according to the Comparative Assessment of Lead Poisoning Screening Practices in Maine and New England, only 45% of all 1-year-olds and 15% of all 2-year-olds in Lincoln County get screened. Screening rates for 1-year-olds in Maine counties range from lows of 28% to highs of 81%. Rates for 2-year-olds range from lows of 8% to highs of 73%. Screening rates overall in Maine were 55% of 1-year-olds and 30% of 2-year-olds in 2017.
MaineCare (also called Medicare) is a program providing low-income people with health care. MaineCare requires all children ages 1 and 2 to be screened for lead. However, even with the requirement in place, only 52.2% of the 1-year-olds involved were screened in 2017, and only 36.6% of 2-year-olds.
Universal screening is where every child ages 1 and 2 is required to get screened. A total of 1,782 Maine children were diagnosed with lead poisoning between 2013 and 2017; 30 children ages 0-3 in Lincoln County got lead poisoning in this time period. However, it is predicted that there would be 853 more children with high levels of lead in their blood if there was a universal screening law as of 2017.
Now, however, there is a universal screening law which has been put in place by Maine Gov. Janet Mills with the help of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition. As of this year (2019), every Maine child ages 1 and 2 is required to be screened for lead.
“The hope is that more kids will be tested for lead and any exposure can be detected early so it can be addressed as quickly as possible and can be as limited as possible. Any exposure can be permanently addressed by the lead being eradicated or contained, so that other children in the house or apartment would not be exposed to lead. Therefore, the more children that get screened, the more lead can be detected and removed from houses and apartments so that families in the future would not be exposed,” said Elizabeth Fleming-Ives, the soon to be director of the Genesis Community Loan Fund in Brunswick. Fleming-Ives helps provide safe housing for low-income people and helped create the universal screening law.
Lead poisoning is a big issue in Maine. It could be an issue for you. If you live in an old house, check for lead. If you have young children, get them screened. Taking these steps can not only help your child(ren), but could help every child in Maine.
Does climate change pose a threat to oyster farming on the Damariscotta River?
By Kayla Cruz
Oysters have been an important part of Damariscotta’s culture for thousands of years. The Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site shows this, with heaps of oyster shells that, according to “Maine: An Encyclopedia,” date back to before the Common Era. The Damariscotta River “has ideal oyster-growing conditions: the right level of salinity with a fresh water mix, warmer temperatures than the open sea,” according to aquaculturenorthamerica.com, but some studies show that growing conditions for oysters may be getting worse.
Most people have heard of climate change, the rise in Earth’s average surface temperatures, and know what it is, but many have never heard of something that comes along with it: ocean acidification. Of the 24 seventh and eighth grade students surveyed from Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta, only nine had heard of ocean acidification, while all 24 had heard of climate change. Only three of those nine students actually knew, or partially knew, what ocean acidification is.
Ocean acidification happens when the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, so as the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rise, so will the ocean’s. Estimates show that the ocean’s surface waters could be approximately 150% more acidic by the end of the century if emission levels stay the same.
When the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide, a series of chemical reactions occur that result in raised concentrations of hydrogen ions. This increased concentration of hydrogen ions makes the water turn more acidic and causes there to be a less bountiful supply of carbonate ions. These ions are important for oysters to build and maintain their shells, according to oceanservice.noaa.gov.
In the past, scientists did not worry about this process, presuming that rivers brought an adequate amount of dissolved chemicals to the ocean to maintain the pH (acidity or alkalinity) level, but carbon dioxide is dissolving into the ocean too fast for this to keep up with. This is causing pH levels of the surface waters to relatively quickly drop, meaning that the acidity of the seawater is rising. Eventually, the whole ocean will become affected as the surface layers gradually mix into deeper waters. Some sea creatures are already being affected by the changes, with the shells of some already dissolving in the water, according to ocean.si.edu.
Mook Sea Farm, located on the Damariscotta River, had larval production problems associated with ocean acidification in 2009, so they “began buffering the water used in the hatchery to raise the pH to optimal levels,” according to mookseafarm.com. This caused larval production to be better than ever.
“But this made (them) realize that climate change was costing (them) in other ways and these costs are increasing for (them) and for other shellfish farms,” according to mookseafarm.com. Some of these costs include area closures due to heavy rainfall and the spread of oyster pathogens because of warmer waters.
Ocean acidification does not only affect oysters. Many other ocean organisms could be affected; corals, mussels, clams, urchins, starfish, zooplankton, plants and algae, and fish are some examples. Ocean acidification will affect each of these organisms in different ways; some of these organisms may even thrive in more acidic waters, but for a lot of sea life, this is not the case, according to oceanservice.noaa.gov.
With lowering levels of pH in the water around the world, will Damariscotta’s oysters be able to continue to thrive?
Death with dignity? New law passed allows physician-assisted suicide in Maine
By Connor Parson
In 1997, Oregon was the first state to pass a law allowing physician-assisted suicide. According to CNN, the number of states that passed this law has risen to seven, as well as Washington D.C.
On June 12, Maine became the eighth state to pass this type of legislation. The Bangor Daily News reported that Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill allowing doctors the right to prescribe life-ending medications to Maine’s terminally ill patients. Before going to the governor’s desk, the bill passed the House of Representatives with a 73-72 vote, and passed the Senate with a 19-16 vote.
This law was proposed by Patty Hymanson, a Democrat representative from York County.
This law’s passing has been part of a push by an Oregon group called the Death With Dignity National Center. This organization has been pushing support and funds behind this type of legislation since Oregon’s initial passing.
In an article from the Associated Press, the bill requires a second opinion from a doctor before the prescription can be filed. Then you must give two verbal requests, and one oral request with waiting periods in between. Then it can be done within six months. While these policies may seem tedious, they were safeguards put in place in order to prevent abuse of patients.
However, not everyone is convinced that these steps are good enough to give the right level of care before someone’s passing. Even some in our very own town, Damariscotta, don’t agree.
“I say that seems excessive because some people don’t have six months,” said Elsa Parson, a registered nurse, “If I had my way, I’d say no more than a week, but I realize what they were trying to do. If someone has to wait six months, they might already die before the person can opt for the treatment.”
Whereas some people like Parson believe that this process should be done before the pain gets too much for the patient to bear, others don’t agree. Even as the bill was being signed, Mills still stated it was one of the toughest decisions she has made as a governor, and she still seems unsure about the decision. The Associated Press reported that after the law was passed, Mills signed an executive order to monitor the way in which the law is being used, and the impact on the state from the law.
“It is my hope that this law, while respecting the right to personal liberty, will be used sparingly,” said Mills.
Even more aggressive backlash is being brought by this law. Many call it a way for doctors and insurance companies to make a profit, whereas others say it is an abuse of patients by the government and that it shouldn’t have the power to do so. Critics of these laws have grown more public in recent years as more states are passing or preparing to pass these laws.
However, it seems that at least some in Lincoln County are ready to do this if people are prepared. Parson stated that as long as the patient has signed consent, and the doctor performing the procedure has met with the patient and explained the process, then it is up to the individual decisions and no one else’s, making it seem that the world is stepping forward to allow a patient to die on their own terms.
“From the perspective of someone at the bedside of people who have died, and I’ve been there holding their hand or helping them feel as comfortable as possible while they’re dying, actively dying, I think this is a really good step forward in terms of compassion and empathy. It’s really hard to watch someone go and think ‘gee, if only they had this option a month ago, when they were still talking, they could’ve talked to their family and explain what they’ve done,’” said Parson.
So while this topic may seem grim in nature, in reality, it is the most compassionate way to end the pain of our terminally ill patients.
Maine’s shrinking population and the problems it will bring
By Elizabeth Rethman
Maine, the most northeastern coastal state in the U.S., has been experiencing a slow decrease in population for quite some time. While still the 41st most populated state, birth rates and immigration have been surprisingly low. According to worldpopulationreview.com, “the 2010 Census revealed that there were 1,328,361 people living in Maine … decreasing slightly to 1,328,188 in 2011.” By 2019, however, the population increased to around 1.34 million, which still only an increase .01 million people in eight years.
Immigration has been a big factor in booming populations for some states, but Maine is not one of them. “Only about 3-4% of Maine’s population has been born out of country, most being from Canada. … Two thirds of the population were born and raised in Maine,” according to the Bangor Daily News. Without many people coming in from out of state, the percentage of immigrants is low. However, most of the people who reside in Maine, but were not born there, showed to be more educated, with around half possessing a college degree or higher, along with around 40% of the population from out of state having a bachelor’s degree.
Immigration is not the only thing stopping Maine from increasing; its population’s birth rates have also been struggling.
In 2017, birth rates had dropped by 4% for two different age groups, and dropped, though not by as much, in all other age categories as well. As said by the Central for Disease Control and Prevention, “Birth rates are down 2% from 2016 and the lowest number in 30 years,” resulting in a new low of around 60.2 births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. Between the years 2016 and 2017 was the most dramatic one-year birth rate decline since 2010. This drop in birth rates has also declined Maine’s future workforce, leaving many jobs open from older generations retiring.
Though some can see the new open job openings as an opportunity for more people, it’s really just driving other businesses away from Maine, as well as limiting the capabilities for businesses centered there to expand.
In order to be able to draw in other businesses and companies from out of state, Maine needs to have a greater population, having more people that are smart and strong enough to uphold the jobs. However, according to the Bangor Daily News, “Maine’s workforce, which is roughly 700,000 people, is expected to shrink by 20,000 workers in 2020 as the older generations start to retire.”
To put it in simple terms, most of Maine’s job openings are due to the retirement of the older generation, or people who leave an occupation or are fired. In order to fill these roles, the population must increase, giving way to a new, younger generation who can maintain the current job openings presented.
“Without a positive natural change, Maine will depend on net in-migration to maintain our population and workforce,” the Maine Department of Labor wrote in its report. In recent recovery, though, the net migration to and from Maine has been near zero, which need to be raised tremendously if the workforce is to continue at the same size and rate.
In conclusion, with low immigration and birth rates, as well as the older generation’s retirement, the workforce has slowly begun to dissipate, resulting in more jobs being vacant. Without young workers from diverse cultures and educations, more and more jobs will be open, without anyone to be there to fill them. With a net migration of close to zero, and birth rates dropping, the population of people ready to step in and take over necessary jobs is decreasing, which also increases the risk of other businesses and companies expanding into this area and profiting more local businesses who struggle from closing and bankruptcy in Maine.
Climate change causes lobster bust
By Maddy Prokopius
Lobstering is a major part of Maine’s economy. Last year was the second-highest lobster haul, contributing more than $484 million to our state’s economy. An average of 5,000 people are employed in Maine as lobstermen; lobster fishing impacts people not only in the fishing industry, such as boat builders, trap manufacturers, and bait suppliers, but also those in the tourism and restaurant business.
In the 1970s, ’80s, and ‘90s, lobster fishing was thriving in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. As the water temperature in the prime lobster fishing grounds increased, there was a drop in landings. In 1999, Rhode Island hauled 8 million pounds of lobster. By 2017, lobstermen were only able to catch 2 million pounds. This substantial decrease in catch has changed the way Rhode Island lobstermen approach fishing. They have had to be creative and fish for other animals like whelks and sea bass to supplement their income from lobstering. Other measures have been necessary to help the local industry, such as limiting the number of traps that can be set, as well as reducing the number of lobster licenses.
Maine, however, saw a large increase in the number of lobsters caught as the other states experienced a decrease. Their lobster hauls were six times the size as the ones before, from 20 million caught in the ’80s to 119 million caught in 2018. Along with this large increase of lobsters, scientists have been noting warmer temperatures in the cold waters of the Gulf of Maine, creating an optimal habitat for lobsters.
Just as in the waters off southern New England states, the water temperature in the Gulf of Maine is now showing no signs of stabilizing, let alone decreasing. It is warming at a record speed, almost 99% faster than any of the world’s oceans. Scientists predict that the lobster population will decrease up to 62% over the next 30 years. The lobsters that made the waters off the coast of Maine their home now will need to migrate north to a cooler climate that is optimal for thriving and surviving.
The quality of the ocean water has also been affected by climate change. This means the whole ecosystem in the ocean is affected. Because of fossil fuel usage, one-fourth of the carbon dioxide ends up in the water. The carbon dioxide then has a chemical reaction with the saltwater and creates acid. As the acid breaks down, hydrogen molecules bond with carbonate molecules. This is a problem because carbonate molecules need to bond with calcium for strong teeth and bones; clams, shrimp, coral, lobsters and other shellfish need calcium carbonate to keep their exoskeleton durable and healthy. If there is not enough calcium carbonate available, the organisms are small and weak. Too much acid in ocean water can dissolve shells.
The change in the water chemistry affects the whole ecosystem because species rely on each other for survival. Over the last 70 years, the ocean’s acidity has increased by 30%.
There is an unquestionable trend of climate change that has increased water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine. Both scientists and lobstermen are concerned about the future of Maine’s lobster, even wondering how long the boom could last. The Maine lobstering community has self-regulated to provide stability for the local lobster industry. They restrict overfishing and developed and follow self-enforced conservation methods, such as V-notching egg-bearing females and designing traps with vents to allow lobsters to escape.
In September 2019, NOAA gave researchers $2 million in grants to study different aspects of Maine’s lobster industry, including how the warming of the Gulf of Maine relates to where female lobsters live as well as how to prevent repeating Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire’s collapse of their local lobster fishing. Maine is working on ways to fight climate change — it only takes a little effort to support the change needed to make a difference.
Single-use plastics in Maine
By Mitchell Straus
According to scientists at Maine’s Marine and Environmental Research Institute, “Off Maine’s coast, they’ve found an average of 17 pieces of micro plastic per liter of seawater.”
That plastic harms marine life, and can end up being ingested by humans if you eat a marine creature that has accidentally eaten the plastics. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that 80% of debris on beaches is from the land, and one-third to two thirds of that are single-use plastics.
On April 22, Maine retail establishments will no longer be allowed to use plastic bags in their checkout lines because of a ban signed by Gov. Janet Mills, the governor of Maine, and other House Democrats. Maine is the fourth state in the country to pass this ban. The first three were California, Hawaii, and New York. Some of Maine’s towns and cities, including Damariscotta, Brunswick, and Camden, have already prohibited the use of single-use plastic bags in stores.
The main reason for the push for this ban was because many plastic bags are ending up in waterways and harming marine life. Another argument is that plastics take a long time to decompose, and they fill our landfills. According to Rick Leblanc in “The Decomposition of Waste in Landfills,” he says plastic shopping bags can take anywhere from 10 to 1,000 years to decompose. He also says, “Plastic bottles can take 450 years or more.”
One problem with the new ban is that some stores still have a supply of plastic bags that will have no use once the ban is put in place. Another argument, told by plastic bag manufacturers against the ban, is that people will still throw away thicker multiple-use bags, which decompose even slower.
Cost also comes into play, according to Chris Conway in The New York Times’s article “Taking Aim at All Those Plastic Bags.” He says, “A standard plastic grocery bag costs about a penny to produce, according to the plastics industry, compared with 4 cents to 5 cents for a paper bag.”
Plastic pollution is not just a problem in Maine. According to Surfers Against Sewage, “100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million seabirds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually.” This number will continue to increase due to plastics still entering waterways worldwide. The World Economic Forum says that China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are responsible for half of all the plastic in the ocean.
A survey was sent out to seventh- and eighth-grade students and staff members at Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta. Out of the 30 collected responses, 21 people said that Maine should be taking more action by banning more single-use plastics, not just bags. This shows that students are not satisfied with this ban and that they want more to be done about this growing problem.
Many websites and articles are trying to spread awareness and give ways for people to help out. Volunteer groups around Maine gather to clean up trash from Maine’s coast. Coastweek, a celebration put on by the Maine Department of Marine Resources, is the biggest volunteer cleanup in Maine. In 2018, 1,365 volunteers cleaned over 70 miles of Maine coast.
Plastic pollution has many negative effects, including harming marine animals, filling landfills, and can ultimately have negative health effects for humans. The ban is a step in the direction of stopping pollution, but more may need to be done to put an end to the pollution altogether. People can find ways to help out in their community, as well as try to limit their plastic waste in day-to-day life.
The sensory hallway at Great Salt Bay Community School
By Mya Bessey
At Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta, there is a new addition to the layout of the school. This addition is the sensory hallway, and it was installed at the beginning of the 2019-2020 year. It is located in the kindergarten through third grade wing. It was designed to respond to a need of students. These students “need to move their bodies safely, make mind-body connections, calm themselves, and get back to the ‘green zone’ to be able to work successfully,” according to a survey response from third-grade teacher Laurie Brown.
Other teachers agree — it was designed to improve focus and attention.
The sensory hallway is available to kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and third grade. The sensory hallway “path” consists of brightly colored stickers placed on the floor and walls, and has activities involving motion or relaxation techniques throughout the entire hallway.
Second-grade teacher Kristie Houghton mentioned that she likes the sensory hallway but that she “sometimes feels that there is too much visually.”
Students can participate in individual activities such as finger taps and arm circles as they’re waiting in line for use of the new feature. This can teach young students about taking turns and occupying themselves when boredom strikes. Examples of activities in the hall include calming yoga poses (at both ends of the hallway), hopscotch, wall pushups, crab crawl, and more. The new addition to the hall gives students a chance to regain focus before going back to learning.
Megan Verney, a first-grade teacher, mentioned that “it is a great resource for all students. A student’s attention span is only as long as their age. For first graders, we have 6 minutes of instruction time before we start to lose them. By providing a brain break, it resets their brains and learning can continue.”
A total of 66.7% of the six teachers in kindergarten through third grade said that their students used the sensory hallway daily, and the remaining 33.3% said that at least weekly the hallway is used. Also, 66.7% of the six teachers surveyed thought that the sensory hallway is working to regain focus in class, and the remaining percentage said that at least sometimes it works.
Kimberly Redmond, the author of the article “A Hop, Skip, and Jump From Doing Better in Class,” states that “Ellen Stone, an occupational therapist at Viola who worked on the pathways, said that any type of movement can help kids settle down and refocus. … ‘It’s designed in a way to hit different parts of the brain,’ Stone said. ‘Students use their muscles and breathing and spatial awareness to get focused on the path. Afterward, they walk away reset and refreshed.’”
Sensory hallways are popping up all over the place. New York, Maine, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Texas are just a few of the states that are installing these hallways. Great Salt Bay Community School has just added yet another hallway to Maine’s vast collection. This new hallway could be the answer to see if these hallways are aimless, or if they’re something to invest in.
Life at Lincoln Academy
By Isabelle Curtis
There is great diversity in the students in the Lincoln Academy residential program. It is a very interesting and large family of students. Students come from all over just to have the American experience and perfect their English skills.
Dorm parent Kristen Curtis said, “When you have that many people who live together in one building you become more like a family than just a group of people.” The family in the residential program is made up of a large variety of students from all over the world. There are students from almost all continents.
Curtis said, “It’s a very rewarding program, I’ve gotten to know students from all over the world, which I really enjoy.”
The diversity in Lincoln Academy can help students learn about different places in the world and lots of other cultures. Freshman Michal Maciejewicz said, “You can be yourself without worrying that others will judge you. Everyone is very accepting and nice. I love being here.”
Senior Amir Mukhametkarim commented, “It has been the most unique experience of my life, and very intriguing. It has felt like one big family from the first day here.”
The residential program welcomes new students from the moment they arrive. The new students are especially welcomed by proctors. The proctor program lets students with good grades and excellent behavior learn and practice leadership skills. They have to be nominated to become a proctor by a teacher or another student, then they must apply for the position. If accepted, they can run special events and are role models for other students.
Another job of the proctors is to take turns monitoring supported study hall. Being in the proctor program also helps them get into good colleges. Proctors sometimes organize activities and trips.
Students in the residential program get to enjoy activities and trips all weekend, even on weeknights. According to a survey given to all the students in the residential program, the most popular trips are things like mall trips, supply runs to Hannaford, and going to Monkey C Monkey Do. Students also play games with each other, as they have access to hundreds of fun board and card games.
However, it is not all fun and games in the residential program, according to Curtis. “There are lots of structures in place to keep the kids safe and healthy,” she said. “We have weekly room inspections to make sure their rooms are clean, and we have study hall every school night; this helps the students get their work done.”
If students do not keep their grades up then they will have to be put in supported study hall, which means that they are monitored constantly to make sure they are studying the entire time. While in supported study hall, they are also supported by teachers and proctors, who regularly check to see if they understand what they are doing.
In contrast, if students have a high grade point average, they are allowed to have privileged study hall. This means they can do things like shower during study hall, and if they would like to, study somewhere other than their dorm room during study hall. The students are also required to check in with a dorm parent on duty every day at dinner, and brunch on the weekends. If students wish to walk downtown or go to a local friend’s house they must sign out with a dorm parent first. Then, when they return to campus, they must sign back in.
Overall, the residential program is a safe, friendly community with students from all over the world. The students create one big family and friendships that will last a lifetime. Even though they have fun while they are here, they are also parented by the dorm parents and kept very safe.
Food Trucks A-Go
By Katherine McKenney
If you happen to be driving on Route 27 heading south toward Boothbay Harbor, you will see the wonderful light show and food truck display, Food Trucks A-Go, ready to serve and please their customers.
Picture this: a 60,000 Christmas light display, wrapped and hung from every tree, and lit-up signs and arrows pointing and luring you in to enjoy the area’s few food trucks. You could maybe even buy a Christmas tree, and sit and enjoy the bonfire while you’re at it.
This fun family event is put on by the Cameron Clan Snack Co. to bring out families to enjoy the fun activities and celebrate the holidays with no admission fee. Lester Spear and Desiree Scorcia, a local husband and wife, set up and planned the whole event. You may have seen the couple and their five children at other festivals, like Damariscotta Pumpkinfest, selling their kettle corn.
The Cameron Clan have their own food truck, selling homemade kettle corn, warm apple cider, and sweet treats. Salty Boyz is a food truck from New Harbor that sells food that sticks to your ribs, like chili and other hearty meals. Salty Boyz also made an appearance at the local Damariscotta Pumpkinfest this past October. Shannon’s Unshelled serves in their hometown of Boothbay, representing by serving various seafood dishes and warm chowders to eat in the cold weather. Blazing Tomato Pizza, located out of Jefferson, is dishing out fresh wood-fired pizzas straight from the oven. BOGS Bakery has the most important job of baking an assortment of delicious holiday desserts for all to enjoy.
The event was linked with the Festival of Lights, a Christmas light show that is put on every year by Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine. The spectacular light show Gardens Aglow brings around 36,000 people every year and it is growing bigger, making the small town very busy for the holiday season.
The food truck court is just minutes from the gardens, so you can walk in, grab a bite to eat, and go to see the Gardens Aglow. The botanical gardens have a cafe but it can be very busy due to the large amounts of people, so they were in luck when the food truck court opened their doors to serve the people.
This was the first year the event was put on, and the Cameron Clan hopes to make the event bigger and better for the next year. The event’s very first day was a Saturday, Nov. 23. The parking lot was full and cars lined the street to come in and enjoy the delicious food. The food truck court is open from 3-10 p.m. on the following dates: Nov. 29, Dec. 5-8, Dec. 12-15, Dec. 19-23, and Dec. 25-31.
So if you get the time, travel down to Boothbay and go see the wonderful light show at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and grab a bite to eat at Food Trucks A-Go. If you need more information, visit the Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce webpage, boothbayharbor.com.
Renewable, or expiring
By Oliver McNamara
In recent years, climate change has become a crucial issue. Carbon dioxide has been produced more and more, and the worldwide average temperature has risen higher and higher. While more is being done, it has yet to be on a large scale.
Here in Maine, about three-quarters of our energy comes from carbon dioxide-producing products, and while this is certainly an improvement, this could be nowhere near close to what we need in the long run. And governments worldwide aren’t helping, according to Jay McNamara.
“I don’t agree that they are doing enough, but there is progress being made,” McNamara said. A firm believer in climate change, McNamara is a business owner, a husband, and the father of two kids, so he has become very worried about the impact in the future. During the interview, he stressed the importance of conserving energy, and says he would “like to see transportation of people and goods to take the lead in the fight to cut greenhouse emissions.”
McNamara himself has installed an efficient heating system, has all LED light bulbs, and drives an electric car, while 50% of the electricity he uses at home is from clean energy sources. McNamara also added that he thinks renewable energy could be a huge player in the years to come.
From vast solar farms in China to offshore wind farms in Europe, renewable energy is starting to take root in today’s society. Here in Lincoln County, for instance, solar is becoming more and more common. While scientists have proved that switching to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, nuclear, and tidal can improve air and water quality, much of America, and the world, is hesitant, not sure what or whom to believe.
The bottom line, though, is that there is a lot of pressure from the people, but several administrations have views elsewhere. As this becomes more of a problem, renewable energy might be the answer.
For starters, there are several types of renewable energy. There is solar, wind, nuclear, tidal, and more. For those who don’t know, renewable energy is an energy source that is practically unlimited. These sources do not release any carbon dioxide. Maine gets most of its renewable energy from hydroelectric dams, and biomass from wood products. Maine has such a vast array of hydroelectric dams because of its many rivers. There are also three biomass or wood pellet plants in Maine. We generate the most wind energy in New England, and we boast a solar farm with 16,000 panels in the town of Madison.
Overall, Maine has a very impressive amount of renewable energy in its society. A huge conflict, though, is that there are lots of people that “don’t believe” in climate change. This may come down to misinformation, or simply a lack of acknowledgement toward the outside world. However, this may not be a problem for the newer generations. In a survey answered by 47 seventh and eighth graders, 38 people said that they thought climate change was real. Also, 18 said that their family was considering getting a form of renewable energy in the future. So maybe there is hope.
So overall, there really is no way to tell what the outcome will be in the future. Scientists have already predicted several outcomes of climate change, like temperatures and sea level rising, and habitats disappearing. But on the other hand, the newer generations already seem to be taking more of a stand on climate change and renewable energy seems to becoming more and more popular. For instance, here in Lincoln County, ReVision Energy has established a solar farm and put panels on the roof of Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta. The first member-owned solar farm was established in Edgecomb in 2015. Peregrine Turbine Technologies, which specializes in tidal turbines, has established an identity in Wiscasset.
All in all, there will always be hope to fight this. It’s never too late to do your part. Because after all, our Earth isn’t something that’s renewable.
Late shed of lobsters could lead to big outcomes
By Annie Peaslee
Maine is usually responsible for 80% of the nationwide lobster haul. In this recent 2019 lobster season, a late molt, or shed, of lobsters took place in the Gulf of Maine. Lobstermen were facing smaller catches this season. A similar trend happened in the 1980s and 1990s, but the catch was booming later in the season. Fishermen were expecting this slow season to pick up pace later in the season.
This late shed of lobsters led to smaller catches and lobsters not being 3 ¼ inches, the legal size. Once the lobsters shed, they often reach legal size and are easier to trap, resulting in larger catches. “Fishermen had brought less than 50 million pounds of lobster to the docks of Maine by the end of September,” the Portland Press Herald reported. That’s 40% less than the total for 2018 for the same time period, and nearly 40% off the five-year average,” says an Associated Press news article. Bringing less than 100 pounds to Maine docks hasn’t happened since 2010.
Due to the slower supply of lobsters, wholesale prices rose. Live 1.25-pound lobsters are being sold for $12 in Maine markets. The price has risen by 10% from last year. Sheila Dassat, the executive director of the Downeast Lobstermen’s Association, said in an AP news article, “The industry is already struggling with high bait prices and other stressors, and a lack of catch could motivate some fishermen to leave the business.”
The cold, wet spring might be the cause of the late shed of lobsters. Warmer springs lead to an earlier shed. Cooler water temperatures could be a cause to the late start. The Gulf of Maine waters are warming 99% faster than any other large saltwater body, so this is unlikely. However, the surface water temperatures this year were the coolest since 2008.
The normal temperature on average in April in Bangor is 43 degrees Fahrenheit. This year, the average temperature in April in Bangor was 42.5 degrees F., 40.8 degrees F. in 2018, 45.7 degrees F. in 2017, and 40.3 degrees F. in 2016.
The normal precipitation on average in April in Bangor is 3.62 inches. The average precipitation in Bangor this year was 5.53 inches. The average precipitation was 4.77 inches in 2018, 3.98 inches in 2017, and 2.58 inches in 2016.
The highest yearly value of lobsters was the year 2016. A total of $450 million dollars worth of lobster was harvested in 2016. This year, the average temperature was 42.5 degrees F. and the average precipitation was 5.53 inches, which were all above the normal averages in Bangor. In 2016, the average precipitation and temperature were both below average. The high averages of precipitation and temperature could have led to the late shed.
It’s unpredictable if next year the lobster catch will be similar to this year. This season, the late shed of lobsters left the lobster industry worried. It will be determined if the future lobster catches will continue to decrease, or if it will make a turnaround.