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Archive for January 2011

Auburn Winter Festival starts Friday, Jan. 28

The 11th Annual Auburn Winter Festival kicks off next weekend with fun, activities and competition for the entire family.

Winter Festival events will be held Friday, January 28 through Sunday, February 6. The week-long festival includes snow rafting rides, Groomer Rides, 3-on-3 Pond Hockey, snowshoeing, ice sculpting, skiing, races, ice skating, a giant snow playground and much, much more!

The Winter Festival offers events beyond the competition of the Olympics or anywhere else in the world. One true competitive team event, called the “Really Ridiculous Relay Race,” will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 5. The event is a three-part relay race involving a 100-yard human dog sled, a 100-yard uphill snowshoe, and concluding with a mad downhill dash in a canoe to the finish line.

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LETTER: Lewistonians were branded as racist

Letter to the Editor:

Chris Aceto’s cherry-picking response (“It’s the Somali’s Fault,” TCT, December 9, 2010) to a letter I submitted the prior week (“YPLAA, residents need to wake up to downtown problems,” TCT, December 2, 2010) seems to characterize me as a racist. Really? Let’s revisit history.

When the Somalis came to Lewiston, Enlightened Beautiful People gushed with jubilation. Finally diversity had been accomplished. They then provided housing in sections of Lewiston that beautiful people are fearful to roam in the daylight, never mind night. No matter. Diversity trumps everything!

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LETTER: Superior service at an affordable cost?

To the Editor:

Auburn City Manager Glenn Aho states in his Weekly Review (Twin City TIMES, January 13, 2011) that city government is dedicated to providing superior service at an affordable cost.

Perhaps there’s a difference of opinions as to which services are necessary, useful and prudent.

Cutting $4,300 from city expenses by eliminating Christmas tree pickup is a step toward savings, I’ll admit. Then Aho tells us in his January 20 Weekly Review in TCT that a five-man administrative consolidation review team will soon be traveling to Grants Pass, Oregon. The team will observe what that city did to see “what may or may not work for Auburn.”

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Androscoggin County Conservative Coalition is formed

The initial meeting of the newly formed Androscoggin County Conservative Coalition (ACCC) was held last week in Auburn. Mary Adams of Garland, a well-known conservative grassroots activist and the founder of the statewide Center Right Coalition in Augusta, was the first guest speaker.

John Turner of Auburn, chairman of the ACCC, said he was very pleased with the turnout and with Adams’s presentation. “Mary is an amazing lady who has changed the history of Maine,” he said. “She is highly respected and very knowledgeable which it comes to Maine politics and conservative issues. Her presentation was well received by those attending, especially when she discussed the creation of the long-standing Center Right Coalition.

“After eight years of her chairing the coalition, a growing number of Maine political leaders are now members, a testament to her tenacity, knowledge and the respect people have for her,” Turner said.

Members of Center Right Coalition in Augusta include several who are now serving in the State House, including Governor Paul LePage, Tarren Bragdon of the Maine Heritage Policy Center and Scott Fish, communications director for the Republican Senate President. When Adams launched the Augusta coalition nearly a decade ago, these members were merely voices in the wilderness, virtually ignored by the Democratic majority that controlled the State House and governor’s seat.

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Blais to donate mobile command center to State Fire Marshal

The keys to a new $180,000 state-of-the-art mobile command center will be handed to Governor Paul R. LePage on Saturday, January 29 in Lewiston.

Anne and Gil Blais, founders of La Boit Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, are donating the mobile command center to their native State of Maine. They will hand the keys to Governor LePage and Fire Marshal John Dean at 10:30 a.m. at Lewiston Central Fire Station, Two College Street, Lewiston.

“On behalf of the people of Maine, I express great appreciation for the generosity of Anne and Gil Blais,” said Governor LePage. “Their donation of a mobile command center makes it possible for our first responders and investigators to do more of their work on site. Managing events where they occur can make officials more responsive and accurate in times of need.”

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National Park Service to assist in riverfront planning

The Cities of Lewiston and Auburn have been selected by the National Park Service to receive a technical assistance grant for planning the Androscoggin Greenway in their region.

Seeking to build on the growing momentum of new riverfront parks, trails and water-based events, local leaders have partnered with the Androscoggin Land Trust (ALT) and its LA Trails program to seek ways to further connect neighborhoods and schools to each other and the Androscoggin River.

“We look forward to working with the Land Trust and Park Service on this project,” said Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert. “The Androscoggin has become a tremendous asset to our region and to the city’s plans for our riverfront and mill district.

“Building stronger connections between the downtown areas of Lewiston and Auburn, our residential neighborhood and the river and its associated natural assets is a key part of our vision for this region’s future,” Gilbert said.

The Androscoggin Greenway is a concept first envisioned by the cities and the Androscoggin Land Trust in the mid 1990s with initial assistance from the National Park Service. The Greenway was intended to develop an open space and recreation link between the rural landscapes of the Androscoggin River corridor and the heritage and revitalization efforts of the industrial villages and downtowns.

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Mayor’s Corner: Barrett’s Year End Roundup to Mayor and City Council

By Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.

mayor of lewiston

My columns over the past month included an interview with Ed Barrett covering his first year as Lewiston’s City Administrator. It provided a look into the man who serves our city in an exceptional manner.

On January 3 he sent a memorandum to the mayor and members of the Lewiston City Council, entitled “Year-End Roundup.” I thought it very well covered the issues those of us on the city council dealt with and the assistance we received under Ed Barrett’s leadership with support from city staff.

With Ed’s permission, I share it with you, as I believe you will find it most informative. So here it is:

Edward A. Barrett’s Year-End Roundup

As we begin a new year, it may be useful to take a few minutes to review the issues and accomplishments of 2010.  With the press of normal business, we don’t often take the time to sit back and reflect on the challenges and accomplishments of the past.

The following summarizes some of the major issues and accomplishments of the city over the past year.

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Weekly Review: Snowstorms; sidewalks; and dual-sort recycling

Weekly Review by the Auburn City Manager

By Glenn E. Aho

auburn city manager

Think of a black cat, right now. The fact that you probably are already thinking of a black cat is an example of how the power of suggestion works. It’s powerful.

What if I told you that the City of Auburn is reducing and prioritized plowing? The power of suggestion would tell us that no matter what you see with regard to the city plowing snow, any hiccup in our service is due to the “reduced and prioritized plowing.” The city has received calls of concern that plows have not come down their street and that some residents want their streets listed with a “higher” priority.

The power of suggestion has people believing the City of Auburn has significantly reduced plowing and has reprioritized people’s plow routes so that instead of being plowed four times a night, it’s now only once—if at all. Interestingly enough, there are only a few differences this year as compared to years past.

Last year is not much of a comparison, as it was so mild. However, the city has only reduced its plowing from 21 to 20 plow trucks during the day. It certainly doesn’t explain the countless concerns expressed by residents. Furthermore, the reduced plowing goes into effect between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3 a.m, but only if it makes sense to do—obviously it would not make sense to reduce plowing during a blizzard.

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Weekly Review: Civility; Shut-Down Day; Mailbox Logic

Weekly Review by the Auburn City Manager

By Glenn E. Aho

auburn city manager

“If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.” That’s most likely one of the most referenced quotes when teaching children about civility or simply being polite. The quote is ageless and timeless, but useless when not considered at all—particularly by adults who know better or especially public figures.

Whether it’s a U.S. Supreme Court Justice mouthing the words, “Not true,” or a U.S. Congressman yelling “You lie!” to our President, these events underscore our country’s need to restore civility. A USA Today article written last spring proclaimed, “Americans Are Fed Up with Incivility in Politics,” and a study conducted by the Center for Political Participation reported 95% of its respondents supported civility, not incivility, and believed civility is important to democracy.

The study is being used by organizers of the CivilityProject.org, asking governors and members of Congress to take a civility pledge in hopes of changing the uncivil tone of our country’s politics. People can disagree and still be civil.

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LIHEAP helps heat Maine homes this winter

U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe

(r-maine)

With each winter storm that blows through the state, each and every Mainer is reminded how vital it is to have access to an affordable home heating source.

Yet that basic life necessity is all too often inaccessible for individuals and families who continue to struggle during these challenging economic times. This is precisely why I couldn’t be more pleased that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced this month that Maine will receive $23 million more than expected in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding this year.

LIHEAP is a federal block grant program that provides states with annual funding to operate home energy assistance programs for seniors and low-income households. Due to elevated prices of energy and high unemployment levels, for the last two years I have led efforts with Senator Reed of Rhode Island to secure $5.1 billion annually for LIHEAP to help more than 8.8 million low-income households nationwide—63,000 in Maine alone.

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