Thursday, January 31, 2002

Eight Corners intersection getting better

Published in the Current

Maine’s Department of Transportation still lists Scarborough’s Eight Corners as the third worst intersection in the state, but according to neighbors and town officials, highway improvements have made the once notorious spot much safer.

“It’s better than it ever was,” said Peter Walsh Jr., who runs the Eight Corners Market.

Department of Transportation engineer, Ralph Webster, said construction done in 2000 was intended to reduce accidents and move traffic along more efficiently.

The project widened the roads, improving visibility, and added a traffic light at the Route 114-Mussey Road intersection.

It seems to have worked. “We were getting three or four (accidents) a week,” Walsh said of the time before the construction. In an interview in mid-December, he said he hadn’t seen an accident in three weeks.

Deputy Fire Chief Anthony Attardo said his information agrees with Walsh’s assessment. He characterized the traffic at Eight Corners as “going great.” Scarborough’s public safety dispatch records indicate that there were no accidents at Eight Corners between Dec. 1 and Dec. 29.

And Eight Corners isn’t the only improved intersection in town, Attardo said. “They really have made some progress over the past couple of years.”

According to DOT data compiled from 1998 through 2000, the intersection at Spring Street and Mussey Road is the second worst intersection in the state. The state treats Eight Corners as two separate road junctions. Factoring in the lower accident numbers at the nearby Route 114 and Mussey Road intersection, Eight Corners overall comes in third, behind two major intersections in Augusta.

Of the seven Scarborough intersections on the state’s problem list, three are on Route 114, where the highway crosses Mussey Road, Running Hill Road and Payne Road.

Holmes Road is also a dangerous place, with problems at Broadturn Road and Beech Ridge Road.

Attardo said the addition of traffic lights at the intersection of Broadturn and Holmes roads has helped there, and the widening project on the Maine Turnpike has reduced accidents there as well.

The state rates intersections based on three years of statistics, so it may take some time before the documents reflect the improvements.

Cape schools look at user fees

Published in the Current

A small group of Cape Elizabeth school officials will meet this week to discuss user fees for school activities. The group will come up with a recommendation, which would be used if the School Board decided to implement the fees.

“I don’t think anybody wants them, myself included,” said School Board member Jim Rowe, who led a study on user fees in 2001 and will chair the group meeting.

But the group is charged with deciding on the best model for user fees, if they were to be introduced into Cape Elizabeth schools. With the budget tight this year, Rowe said, it is prudent to explore all possible revenue options, even if those options are not used.

Among the choices for a fee structure are a flat per-student fee, different fees for sports and non-sports activities, and a smaller flat fee per activity. In each case, there
would be a fee cap of $100 per student and $150 per family.

Rowe said he did not know whether any other options would be developed at the meeting, and stressed it was up to the School Board to decide whether to introduce the fees.

Buddhists worship, learn in Scarborough

Published in the Current

Buddhists from all over Maine and the Northeast come to Scarborough to practice their faith. The state’s chapter of the True Buddha School has its Maine headquarters on U.S. Route 1, just south of Anjon’s Restaurant.

A small ranch house has been converted into a gathering place for a group of mostly Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists now living in the region. They follow the teachings of a Buddhist cleric based in Seattle, who teaches in the Tantric or Vajrayana tradition of Buddhism, the same style as that followed by the Dalai Lama.

They came to Scarborough looking for a place for the society in the Greater Portland area, and found an affordable building in a good location here in town.

Yee-lin Lee, one of the people who runs the Scarborough temple, said people tend to come to offer gifts to the Buddha on the first and 15th days of the lunar months. She said most of the people are Chinese and Vietnamese, but members of other nationalities also come to the temple.

Lee said there is a particularly large turnout for Chinese New Year, which this year will be celebrated on Feb. 12, 2002, on Western calendars. It will be the Chinese year of 4699, the Year of the Horse.

Lee said she had started to notice an increase in the number of people who don’t speak Chinese at some of these events, and at their suggestion began a program to introduce Buddhism to English speakers.

Rev. Lianhong, a Buddhist monk from Oakland, Calif., came to town to deliver a series of teachings on the basics of Buddhism. About 50 people turned out for the first session, Jan. 16, despite a freezing rainstorm. Turnout was so good, in fact, that most people had to park at a larger parking lot near the Dunstan School Restaurant and get shuttled to the temple.

Lianhong began the first teaching with a disclaimer: “I am not here to convert you to Buddhism,” he said, though he said he wouldn’t turn away anyone who wanted to learn more.

In the first session, Lianhong gave a brief history of the life of the Buddha, and talked about the basic principles of the Buddha’s teachings, which are common to all three Buddhist traditions, Mahayana (most common in China and Japan), Theravada (Thailand, Cambodia and Burma) and Vajrayana (Tibet and Himalayan regions of several countries).

The class also explored other aspects of Buddhist teachings and meditation, with Lianhong offering suggestions for improving mindfulness and focus while meditating, and encouraging people to find meditation in all daily activities.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Cape schools begin budget process

Published in the Current

At a workshop meeting Jan. 22, the Cape Elizabeth School Board kicked off its budget process with a discussion of new staffing needs, building plans and possible student activity fees. The board remained conscious of budget constraints and prepared itself to answer the concerns of the Town Council, which must approve the school budget.

Three new staff positions were put on hold due to budget constraints, and all of the new programs originally planned for this year’s budget also were taken off the table by Superintendent Tom Forcella.

Remaining were additional staff positions required to handle increased enrollment and higher special education needs, small increases in high school and middle school athletics positions, and an 8-hour, weekly position to help support the state’s Laptop Initiative.

Enrollment changes mean a second grade teaching position will be added, while a middle school teaching position will be eliminated, and three teaching spots will be added at the high school.

Special education staff will be reshuffled through the district, as four educational technicians will move from the middle school to the high school along with the students they assist. Several kindergartners also will require additional help as they move from a half-day kindergarten to a full school day in first grade.

Despite those increases – nearly four full-time positions – special education director Claire LaBrie said the price was a bargain. “We are educating students in our school system that 20 years ago we would not have been educating,” she said. Instead, the school district would be paying for expensive day programs.

Occupational therapy and speech and language staff also will be increased slightly, in response to recently identified needs.

The high school will see an increase of about 50 students, half in the ninth grade and half in 12th grade, said High School Principal Jeff Shedd. That will require an additional three teachers there.

Board chair George Entwistle questioned whether that should mean three teaching positions should be eliminated at the middle school.

Middle School Principal Nancy Hutton, along with Shedd and Forcella, explained that there are more requirements on high school students, and more options open to them, meaning more teachers are frequently required to meet the needs of high school students than of a similar number of middle school students.

High school students are required to take a certain number of “elective” classes, for example, and that means teachers must branch out beyond the traditional curriculum.

Shedd pointed out the teaching staff increase “assumes no significant increase in class size.”

The board also discussed the plans for renovating the high school and adding to Pond Cove Elementary School. Building Committee chair Marie Prager presented several options to the board, including projected timelines and the costs for portable classrooms to be used temporarily until the building projects are complete.

The building itself is expected to cost between $5 million and $6 million. An exact figure should be available at the end of the school year, Prager said, when the architect completes a review of the precise work required.

The board wants to move forward as quickly as possible with the project, which should mean work on both buildings would begin in the summer of 2004, continue through the school year with some projects, and be completed in time for the beginning of the 2005-2006 school year.

The options Prager presented would cost between $90,000 and $165,000 for portable classrooms in the interim, beginning next school year. The variation comes from the number of portables, the number of years they are used, and whether or not kindergartners use them. Kindergarten classrooms are required to have running water and toilet facilities.

In other business, the board:
-Discussed school activity “user fees,” and decided to delegate a committee to come up with recommendations based on a study conducted by board member Jim Rowe in 2001. Possible options are a flat per-student fee, separate fees for sports and non-sports activities, and a smaller per-activity fee. In each case, there would be a fee cap of $100 per student and $150 per family.

-Entered executive session to discuss contract negotiations with custodians and bus drivers.

The next school board meeting will be Feb. 12, at 7:30 p.m., in the Council Chambers. The budget will be presented to the board Feb. 26, at 7 p.m., in the high school library.

Cape starts foundation to support innovation in schools

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth has set a $1 million fund-raising goal for a new education foundation which would give grants to local teachers and schools for innovative teaching projects.

In the planning stages for a year, the tax exempt Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation could begin fund-raising as early as this fall.

The foundation would use the interest from the money it raises to make the grants. The program is based on the success of the Rye (N.H.) Education Foundation.

Rye is a similar town to Cape, in its proximity to the coast and general affluence. And with a smaller population, Rye was able to raise $1 million in a single year to kick off its foundation, giving Cape organizers confidence in their success.

Superintendent Tom Forcella, who is an adviser to the foundation, said the plan is to lay the groundwork now, as the economy recovers, and have meetings in various neighborhoods to prepare for the capital campaign kickoff in the fall.

“The purpose of the foundation is to support education,” said CEEF president Andy Geoghegan.

He was careful to note, however, “the primary obligation to support schools is obviously through the town and the state.”

But the district already is getting $7 million less in state money than it did in 1987, and with the burden of making up the difference falling on local property taxpayers, money is hard to come by.

“We don’t have the kind of commercial development in town,” Geoghegan said, to bring a lot of money in without raising property taxes.

The operational budget, Forcella said, is the responsibility of the taxpayers. But new projects and additions to school programs are hard to fund.

Geoghegan said the foundation is intended to support “a project relating to educational innovation and excellence.”

Falmouth and Cumberland, Forcella said, have similar programs where they raise several thousand dollars each year and give it all away. The Cape plan, like the Rye foundation, is to raise a much larger sum up front and have interest to give away each year without major fundraising drives.

The Rye Education Foundation has been around since 1995, and has granted over $30,000 to the town’s schools for various projects.

With the interest from $1 million, “you’re talking significant impact on what can be done,” said Mark Forsyth, president of the Rye Education Foundation.

Forsyth said the REF has two grant application deadlines each year, and decides grants based, in part, on maximizing the number of students who will be affected by the project.

Some of the projects in Rye have included $784 for the purchase of a digital camera for use at the junior high school newspaper; $1,000 for materials to build a reusable planetarium at the elementary school; $2,500 for a program in which elementary school students “create an individualized U.S. history book unique to their own experiences and historical research”; and $200 for elementary school students to make handmade paper for story books.

And at least one idea has developed in Cape already: A teacher at the middle school wanted to do a unit on Near Eastern culture and religion following Sept. 11, but there were no funds to pay for books or other materials.

With the regular budget method, teachers have to plan 12 to 24 months in advance. But the foundation plans to offer a simple application form for a teacher or administrator to fill out, and give an answer—and the money—in 30 days.

“Sometimes the traditional budget process is confining,” Geoghegan said.

Innovation and experimenting with new methods are hard for school boards to fund, especially when money is already tight, he said. “We hope to do some of those extras. It’s limited only by the imagination of the teachers and students.”

And what about some people’s fears that the school board will stop funding some programs and suggest the foundation pay for them instead?

“We should be so lucky,” Geoghegan said. If there’s enough foundation money to really make a dent in the school budget, it would be a positive thing, not a problem.

“We are independent but we need to be closely coordinated with the school board,” Geoghegan said.

This was echoed in Rye, where Forsyth said, “we’re not tied into the town or the schools, although we support the schools.”

The fund-raising may begin this fall, Geoghegan said, but any formal announcement would wait until a strategic plan and project timeline are complete, which he expects by April.

The foundation already has met with a couple of fund-raising consultants about how to get to $1 million, and Geoghegan said he anticipated hiring a professional to run the fund-raising effort.

He expects the money could be raised in three to six months. Rye’s experience may lend some credence to his projection: The REF originally set its goal at $500,000, but upon reaching that goal, an anonymous donor pledged to match additional funds raised, up to $250,000. The REF did it, bringing their total to $1 million.

“I think it will really benefit the school district,” Forcella said.

The foundation wants to get the community involved. Forcella talked about tapping the schools’ alumni, asking them for money. And Geoghegan said it is an opportunity for people to help the schools beyond just paying their property taxes. “Those who want to (help) and can will have a convenient vehicle for doing so.”

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Coaches and clothes: Dressing for success

Published in the Current

Go to any high school game, you'll see the coaches striding the sidelines, exhorting their team to try harder, "want it" more, and play as a team. Coaches are hoisted high when major victories are won, and suffer the wrath of disappointed fans if failure comes home to roost.

And each game offers a new opportunity for coaches to present themselves to the community in person, beyond the sports-page scoreboard of results. Many parents don't get a chance to talk to the coaches at the games, leaving their clothes to do the talking.

Some of them have truly achieved sartorial splendor. Others, equally qualified as coaches, are less formal, but they have their reasons.

Tammy Loring, the Cape Elizabeth girls basketball coach, follows basketball tradition. She dresses up for each match, and requires her players to do so in school the day of a game.

"I played for Scarborough and we had to wear dresses or skirts," she said. "We're in the spotlight, we're representing the community."

She said it helps build team unity and a sense of pride. "We start as a team," Loring said. "It's a class act."

She said working as a team and being a role model for the team - and having the players be role models in the community - are her major efforts this year.

"I'm really focusing on teams, on (having) no individuals," she said. "We win together, we lose together."

She did say there is an element of competition, too. "Of course we're all out there to win."

And win they can. "We've come a long, long way from last year," Loring said.

From a 1-17 record last year, the Lady Capers are already at 3-7, and she is optimistic. "They've just got to believe in themselves."

Scarborough boys basketball coach Chris Hasson said self-respect is part of dressing up, though he has seen players dress up and misbehave and others, in casual clothes, behave very well. His players have to wear ties in school, and bring a sport coat to wear as the team enters the gym before the game.

"You're representing your school," he said.

Hasson said he normally wears a shirt and tie on the sidelines, but wore a golf shirt during the Christmas tournament, in which Scarborough did very well. He has worn the shirt for three of the past four games, and they have won all three.

"I wore a shirt and tie and coat at Cape and we got pounded," he said.

So it's back to the golf shirt. "I'm not very superstitious, but I'm not changing it," Hasson said. He did say he washes the shirt between games.

Hasson even has a dress code during practice: school colors are required, and shooting jerseys or school T-shirts are preferred. T-shirts worn under their practice jerseys must be white or gray.

Scarborough girls soccer coach Mark Coulston takes another approach. Without a locker room for changing into game clothes, he said, dressing formally is less of an option.

"What they'll do is wear their game shirts to school that day," Coulston said.

The night before a big game, the team will often have a group dinner at someone's house. As part of that, they will sometimes decorate shirts and wear those on game day, instead of the jerseys.

He said most other soccer coaches wear jogging suits at games, but others do dress up more, and require players to dress up too.

"Each coach is different, and each team is different," Coulston said.

Heroin moving into Cape

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth police are beginning to notice an increase in drug-related crime in town.

Several burglaries in the Scott Dyer Road area on one night in particular, Jan. 6, are believed to be related to each other and to a small group of users of heroin and other drugs in Cape Elizabeth.

“The drug (heroin) is becoming more prevalent,” said Cape Police Chief Neil Williams, adding that it is cheaper than cocaine and is easier to get than OxyContin.

On Jan. 6, “a crew of two to four people,” according to Detective Paul Fenton, entered unlocked cars and sheds on Scott Dyer and Brentwood roads, and stole “mostly small items.” Some of the property recovered from the thieves includes a set of golf clubs, a car stereo, a firearm and a bicycle.

“They grabbed what they could get their hands on,” Fenton said.

He said he has identified some suspects and has information that indicates they were planning to sell the items for drug money, or trade them directly for drugs.

“I’m pretty sure who they are,” Fenton said. He said he knows of about a half-dozen people in town who use drugs such as heroin, but said he assumes there are more that he doesn’t know about. He added that his count doesn’t include their friends.

The people, whom Fenton and Williams declined to identify, are in their late teens but are not in school, they said.

Fenton recommended that people lock their cars and their homes, and asked residents to call police if they see people walking around on the streets very late at night. And check out any nighttime noises when you hear them, rather than waiting until morning.

“If they hear anything, give us a call,” Fenton said.

He said they did get a tip Jan. 6, and almost caught the thieves, but arrived a little bit too late. He said some people don’t call the police for fear of “bugging” them, but Fenton stressed they want people to call.

“It’s our job,” he said. “It’s not bugging us.”

Officer Paul Gaspar, who is the department liaison to the schools and other community groups, said he is seeing more drug use in the community, but not much in the schools. He said he also knows of one recent Cape High School graduate who is on methadone, a drug used to treat heroin addiction.

But teenage users of hard drugs are certainly possible in Cape Elizabeth, he said, just as it is in other towns.

“Do I think it’s outside the realm of possibility? No,” Gaspar said.

He said parents should talk to their kids and trust their gut feelings if something doesn’t feel right. Parents should look for signs of drug use in their teenagers, he said, including smoking and drinking, a change in demeanor, depression, being easily angered, changing the peer group, having friends they don’t want to bring home, paleness of skin and loss or gain of weight.

He said Day One is a community-based resource for parents and teens dealing with drug and other issues, and suggested the Fort Williams office as a good place to ask for help.

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Cape School Board handles business

Published in the Current

The Cape Elizabeth School Board set a speed record at its regular Tuesday meeting: 40 minutes, gavel to gavel. The previous record, 46 minutes, was set at December’s meeting. But longer meetings are in store soon, as budget discussions begin.

During the short meeting, the school board learned that part of the Portland Arts and Technology High School’s budget was “killed by one of our neighboring school districts,” according to board member, Kevin Sweeney, who also serves on the board of PATHS.

The budget was revised, and the planned biotechnology program was saved, Sweeney said. The board voted to approve the revised budget, and to pay the amount PATHS requested from Cape, which will not exceed the amount the board previously approved.

The board also learned that longtime Pond Cove guidance counselor, Sara Berman, will be resigning at the end of this school year.

In other business, the board:
– Heard from the high school student representatives that the senior class is in danger of losing its privileges due to misbehavior and parking violations. “Some students accumulate a lot of points, while others aren’t accumulating any,” said representative David Greenwood. Midterms, Greenwood reported, begin soon, ending the first semester. Also, a good number of Cape students volunteered over the holidays, including participating in a gift drive for area teenagers. And, the day after Christmas, some students painted the names of active duty military personnel from Cape on the rock on Route 77.
– Heard from the middle school student representatives that there will be a regional student leadership conference Jan. 10 and a career fair at the school Jan. 24. The student council and advisory groups also are very involved in community service. The council adopted a family over the holidays, purchasing food and gifts which were greatly appreciated by the family. And teacher, Andy Strout’s, advisory group is having a book drive for a school serving underprivileged students in Boston. Also, 150 students auditioned to play a part in the school play, “Peter Pan,” which will be performed the first weekend in April.
– Heard a report from Superintendent Tom Forcella that the Future Direction Planning process is well underway, and that several goals for this academic year already have been met, while others are in progress or on the schedule to be completed on time.
– Heard from high school Principal Jeff Shedd that the mock trial team did very well in the state finals, narrowly missing beating Hampden Academy, the school that beat Cape last year for the state title. Shedd, a former attorney, was very impressed with the quality of the students' work and performance. Also, Spanish teacher, Angela Schipani, is having excellent success with a new teaching method, involving roleplaying and story-telling. Mark Pendarvis has begun experimenting with that method as well.
– Heard from middle school Principal Nancy Hutton that the fifth grade teaching team has planned an integrated unit on recycling, which will involve a visit to the school by the town Recycling Committee. Hutton also explained the nature of the educational teams with an anecdote about the eagerness of the seventh grade team to get its hands on the new laptops from the state. All of the teachers, with the help of district technology coordinator, Gary Lanoie, volunteered to be a part of a demonstration program in which the school would get its laptops shortly and then host a series of visits by teachers from around the state to see how laptops can be used effectively in classrooms. Hutton said the school has not yet been approved to be a demonstration site.
– Approved several winter sports coaches for the middle school.
– Announced the municipal election, which will be held Tuesday, May 7, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Two seats on the School Board will be open, those held by George Entwistle and Jim Rowe. Nomination papers are due to the Town Clerk’s office by 5 p.m., March 25.

The school board’s next regular meeting will be at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 12, in the Town Council Chambers.

Cape mock trial team loses close competition

Published in the Current

The Cape Elizabeth mock trial team barely missed beating Hampden Academy at the statewide high school mock trial competition in Portland Saturday. After a pair of closely argued trials, the judges couldn’t decide who had won.

They discussed the possibility of a tie, but decided that couldn’t happen. There was no precedent for a tie in the mock trial finals, or anywhere else in the competition.

So the three judges—Leigh Saufley, Maine’s new Chief Justice, Colleen Khoury, the dean of the University of Maine Law School, and Elizabeth Scheffee, president
of the Maine Bar Association— voted again. Cape was not the winner.

It was Cape’s second appearance at the finals in three years, and the competition is set up to be as real to life as possible.

“We present in a real courtroom in front of practicing judges,” said Dan Gayer, a senior on the team.

They use real rules of evidence and actual trial procedure, too, though some of the most complex legal guidelines are left out, to make things a little simpler and keep the trials moving.

The competition season begins in September, when packets of case information go out to participating schools around the state. They all work on the same case, which is fictitious, but includes evidence from witnesses, police reports, and expert testimony. Students prepare for a couple of months, and trials begin in November.

Each team has to present both sides of the case, taking turns with the roles of defense and prosecution, including playing all the witnesses who will testify.

The competition is based not only on whether a team proves its side, but how well they present it. Is it well-argued, with minimal straying from the point? Are witnesses convincing and are cross-examinations revealing? Do experts really know what they are talking about? How do witnesses and attorneys alike handle tough questions or answers?

The students get help from Cape mock trial adviser and theater teacher Dick Mullen, as well as local lawyers, often parents of students on the team. They are taught the academics of trial law, as well as how to exploit the emotional nature of a case.

“It’s very academic,” Mullen said. The practices are rigorous, with tips from the real lawyers on appropriate handling of objections.

Mullen encourages the students to use body language and sound like they mean what they say.

Team member Stephanie Reed was not especially interested in the law until Mullen approached her to be on the team. Now she says she considers law one career possibility, though she hasn’t decided what she’ll do just yet.

The students miss school to attend competitions, and sacrifice long hours to prepare for the cases.

But, Gayer said, it helps them understand why the U.S. legal system is set up the way it is, with its flaws and all.

“You learn a lot about how the legal process works,” Reed said.

Cape adults ponder school ethics

Published in the Current

The Cape community strove to identify itself in words Monday night as 30 parents, teachers and administrators gathered to discuss standards for ethical and responsible behavior in the schools and in the community.

Superintendent Tom Forcella began the meeting, held at the cafetorium shared by the middle and Pond Cove Elementary schools, by explaining that the process is mandated by the state’s learning results act, requiring local districts to develop codes of conduct, including behavior standards and procedures for handling those who break the rules.

But it’s wider than just a required document, Forcella said. “There should be something (in the code) that we all believe in as communities,” he said. It fits in well, too, with the district’s future direction planning process.

The turnout wasn’t all that Forcella had hoped. “It would have been nice if we packed this cafetorium,” he said. But the group was big enough to take the first step in the process, which will include continued discussions with staff, students, administrators and the public.

School Board Chairman George Entwistle began facilitating a group discussion, reprising a role familiar from his day job. He split the audience up into five small groups, each with about six people, sitting at separate lunch tables in the room.

They had to come up with, and share with the group, five to eight values, in single words, that would be engraved above the doors to each school.

People at the tables talked about courage, curiosity, tolerance, acceptance, kindness, trustworthiness, consistency, industry, intra-dependence, service, risk-taking, sincerity, love, hope, commitment and equity, among many other things.

As the lists were compiled, they were read aloud to the whole audience. The overall list filled two large sheets of paper in the front of the room.

Then Entwistle challenged each table to come up with its own list of five to eight words that were “values essential to being an ethical person,” and the discussion broadened and deepened, exploring words, values and meaning.

“Is perseverance really a value?” one person asked, suggesting commitment might be a better word for what she wanted to see in her community.

“A lot of these words overlap,” was a common theme. People had to choose words that fit together to form a coherent picture, and didn’t duplicate each other.

The audience then came back together to discuss the words they agreed on as a group. Respect and responsibility were unanimous, and compassion, honesty, courage and fairness were frequently mentioned.

But the real discussions were about the decision between justice and fairness, and honesty and integrity.

“We’re a nation of laws,” said School Board member Jim Rowe.

Those laws aim at ethical behavior, so justice was the word he supported.

But others disagreed. “Sometimes equal is not fair,” said one mother.

Middle School Principal Nancy Hutton wanted to choose words that had power, like integrity, she said.

But some people were concerned that it was a word many elementary school children wouldn’t know. “It’s a great word to teach them,” said one.

High School Principal Jeff Shedd suggested humility be added to the list. “It’s a good word for Cape Elizabeth,” he said, adding “it’s presently a weakness.”

The final exercise of the evening was defining the actions associated with each of the values on the final list, which had seven words: respect, humility, responsibility, honesty, compassion, courage and fairness.

The discussions have only begun in Cape Elizabeth, and the wheels of thought are turning as all members of the community consider the values they support above all others, the ones which might, someday, be engraved in stone above the school doors.

Study looks at Haigis wildlife

Published in the Current

The Scarborough Conservation Commission has hired Woodlot Alternatives of Topsham to organize already existing data on wildlife in the Haigis Parkway area for use by town officials and property owners as they plan development there.

Stephanie Cox, chair of the Conservation Commission, said the group does not have the power to require landowners to take certain actions, and doesn’t want that authority. What the commission does have is a desire to locate and distribute solid information about wildlife.

“Not to come up with recommendations,” Cox said, “but to give us some scientific information.” Woodlot Alternatives is collecting information from the Greater Portland Council of Governments, state authorities and other sources for its report, which Cox expects to receive in February.

“As a community, we have an open space resource here that with a little bit of forethought and planning … we may come up with solutions that are win-win for people and for wildlife,” Cox said.

She emphasized that nobody is trespassing on any property along the Haigis Parkway, and said the information the study collects will be made available to landowners as well as town officials to help them make decisions about where to leave open land and where to develop.

If the Conservation Commission has any agenda at all, Cox said, it is two-fold: to provide good information about the land and wildlife, and to “encourage landowners to plan for the needs of wildlife.”

Cox invites comments from the public, either by phone or note to Town Hall, or at Conservation Commission meetings, which are held the second Monday of each month at Town Hall at 7 p.m.

It’s (early) decision time for Cape seniors

Published in the Current

While college applications still loom for some, 40 percent of the Cape senior class already is finding out whether they got into the colleges of their choice.

Of the 110 students in the Cape Elizabeth High senior class, 22 applied for early decision and another 22 applied for early action. Early decision is binding, meaning a student applies to only one school, and promises to attend that school if accepted. Early action is non-binding, and allows the student to apply to more than one college at once or to some early-action and others under regular admissions deadlines.

Knowing ahead of time is nice, but money complicates the issue. At most colleges and universities, financial aid packages are created at the same time as admissions decisions, meaning an early-decision applicant may end up with a less appealing aid package and have no choice but to accept it. Early-action and regular applicants can review several financial aid offers before making a final decision about which school to attend.

Individual decisions
One Cape senior who has decided not to apply early anywhere is David Kramer. He is looking at seven schools.

Kramer, who wants to major in civil engineering, has visited all of the schools he is considering, and is impressed with their programs. He had considered applying early decision at Tufts, but had second thoughts.

“What if some other school is just as good or better?” Kramer asked. Instead of deciding now, he will wait to see which schools admit him and go back for a second visit.

None of the schools on his list offer early action, but all do offer early decision applications.

“I probably would have done that (early action) if it was an option,” Kramer said.

He said early decision has its benefits, but not for him. “It’s good for people who know exactly where they want to go,” he said. “I really couldn’t decide.”

Meghan Donovan, CEHS class of 2001 and now a student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., did not apply early decision, though after one particular college visit she initially wanted to. She was glad her mother, who works in the high school’s guidance office, suggested she wait.

She wrote in an e-mail to The Current, “Fall is a very stressful time, with one of the most stressful semesters of high school in full swing, SATs and a host of other distractions. It is therefore wise, I believe, to take the extra time to do regular decision.”

“My applications were better presented and composed because of the extra time waiting provided me,” Donovan wrote.

Amanda Gann, a senior who applied early action to Harvard and to Georgetown, said she was applying early to get her ball rolling before the real time crunch hit over the holidays.

“I wanted to get my act together early,” Gann said.

She is applying to six or seven schools, she said, but she wasn’t sure what was really her top-choice school.

“I’m not very good at making up my mind. Your mind changes from day to day,” she said. And early action has its payoff: if it’s successful, there’s a holiday present. “You find out in December.”

Allon Kahn got such a present, with an admission letter from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He applied there under the school’s early decision program, and got his letter on a Saturday in December “at 1:45 p.m.” he said, adding that he greeted the mail carrier and started celebrating outside on the street as he read the letter.

“It was so clearly my first choice,” Kahn said. He researched a lot of colleges before going on a large tour of campuses in April. After the tour, he said, he was down to two schools at the top, and Vassar was ahead.

He visited Vassar again in early November, visiting classes and staying overnight. The visit clinched his decision. He recommends early decision for students who know where they want to go. He did caution that some people don’t get in early and are deferred to be considered as a regular applicant.

Kahn said some consider that a rejection, but it is not. “I would recommend early decision,” he said.

Big choices
One thing is certain. Cape students apply to, are accepted to, and attend good schools by any standards. A look at last year’s class can give a preview of where Cape graduates of 2002 could go.

The Cape class of 2001 sent 101 of 112 students to post-secondary education. Of that group, 95 went to four-year colleges, and the rest attended one- or two-year programs.

There were 81 students who went to schools outside Maine, and 72 went to private schools.

Some Cape graduates from 2001 stayed nearby, attending Bates, Bowdoin or Colby colleges, USM, SMTC, the University of Maine (in Orono and Fort Kent) and Maine College of Art.

Others left Maine but stayed in New England, at schools like Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth College, MIT, Northeastern University, Quinnipiac College and others.

Ranging further afield were students who went to Brigham Young University, Arizona State, Carleton College, Nashville (Tenn.) Auto Diesel College, Southwest Missouri University and University of Puget Sound.

Beyond the places Cape grads actually went last year are the schools where students were accepted.

Those schools include Brown and Princeton of the Ivy League, as well as “little Ivy League” members Vassar, Wesleyan and Wellesley.

Big schools like Florida State and the University of Connecticut have accepted Cape students, as have small colleges like Stonehill and Mary Washington colleges. Specialty schools like Massachusetts Maritime Academy and New England Conservatory have, too.

And many of the schools accept more than one Cape student, like Mount Holyoke, which accepted seven members of the class of 2001. Three of them attended.

Of the 19 Cape students accepted by the University of Maine, 5 attended, and two of the seven accepted at the University of New Hampshire ended up at that school.

Monday, January 7, 2002

Tecnomatix expands business model

Published in Interface Tech News

NASHUA, N.H. ‹ Moving ahead in its return to profitability, Tecnomatix Technologies recently became a reseller of Seattle-based GraphiCode's iGerber manufacturing file format conversion software.

While the deal is not a giant one, it should mark a positive step for the electronics manufacturing service company.

"It will have a medium-sized impact on our business dealings," said Tecnomatix product marketing manager John Dixon. "It allows us to broaden our customer base and provide better service."

According to company officials, the iGerber software has already been well-integrated with Tecnomatix's eMPower software suite, but customers will now be able to order the two together, rather than making two separate transactions.

It is a continuing part of Tecnomatix's transition from providing specific software solutions for the manufacturing process to offering what it calls "manufacturing process management," a set of software tools offering end-to-end manufacturing integration.

Analyst Bruce Jenkins, executive vice president of Daratech, said the reseller deal is a good move, and applauded the company's progress in the transition, which he termed "challenging."

Jenkins said offering manufacturers a way to streamline not only their design process, but also the manufacturing process is "one of the most pressing strategic priorities for manufacturers today," and a big move toward profit increases for Tecnomatix and its customers.

While Tecnomatix's third quarter figures did show a small net loss, Jenkins said he agrees with company projections of a five-percent profit margin in 2002. He added that the economy is impacting the company, but not by much.

"The general economic environment is a problem for them, as it is for everybody," Jenkins said.

He explained that while Wall Street and many investors are optimistic about a turnaround by the middle of 2002, some Tecnomatix customers are more guarded, which could cause some problems.

Not only is the company targeting the right market, but they're going about it in the right way, according to Jenkins. The company is offering "exactly what's needed," he said.

But, he added, the biggest challenge will continue to be the transition from specific tools to an overall package for the manufacturing process, and, so far, they have done well.

"They have already faced it, and they succeeded and are moving beyond it," Jenkins said.

Thursday, January 3, 2002

Cape entrepreneur repels insects, attracts funding

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth research botanist, Jim White, is now selling a new plant pest repellent, Anti-Pest-O. It is biodegradable and made from natural products.

But the real surprise, White said: “It works!”

The product, White said, fills a gap in pest-control sprays. While many sprays help control a wide range of insects, most of those are toxic to the environment.

Other products are natural but only work on one or two types of insects.

What distinguishes Anti-Pest-O from those, White said, are three things. First, some natural products use pyrethium as a base.

That chemical is a derivative of chrysanthemum plants, but, “even though it’s natural, it’s still toxic.”

Second, “we’re not killing anything,” said Neil Cambridge, one of White’s business partners.

Anti-Pest-O’s base is neem oil, derived from the seeds of the neem tree, native to India. While it does contain a reproductive inhibitor, White said, it’s the bad taste and smell that really make it effective.

And, finally, White said, Anti-Pest-O is effective against a broad range of insects, including every gardener’s mortal enemy, the Japanese beetle.

He knows. He has tried it on his nine-acre property in Cape Elizabeth, which includes extensive areas of plantings. He nearly gave up the idea after spraying the formula on Japanese beetles eating his Concord grape garden, but when he went back the next day, all the beetles were gone.

“Most pests, as soon as you spray this, they just disappear,” White said. Japanese beetles, he said, are a little more stubborn and need to take a bite out of a plant before they decide to leave it alone.

Neem oil is commercially available from garden shops, but costs up to $160 per gallon, White said.

White has mixed the oil with other natural ingredients to formulate his compound, which he sells in 32-ounce bottles for $19.95. There is some evidence that either the oil or other ingredients remain on the plant after rainstorms, he said, and may be absorbed from the ground by plants’ roots.

And something about Anti-Pest-O keeps pests from returning to plants where it has been applied. White stressed, though, that beneficial insects, like bees and nematoids, are not put off by Anti-Pest-O.

“If you give Mother Nature a chance, she will protect herself and all her little children,” White said.

He recently received a Maine Technology Institute grant to help with the commercial development of his product. The grant covers fees for incorporation, patent filing, trademarking and federal registration.

White’s award was one of 15 granted, out of 41 applications. He is getting help in those areas from Rita Logan of the Patent and Technology Office at USM.

White had submitted another application as well, but MTI wanted more information, so he will reapply for the round of grants issued in February. That grant would allow him to further develop plans for large-volume commercialization of Anti-Pest-O.

He already has formed the company, Holy Terra, to manufacture and market Anti-Pest-O. His wife, Carol Raney, and Cambridge are officers of Holy Terra, along with White.

And Holy Terra has big goals. Not only do they want to reach $1 million in sales by the end of 2002, “we would like to see sales in all regions of the country,” Cambridge said. In five years, they want to have $20 million in annual sales.

The product has been tested around the U.S. and has early interest from farmers in France as well, White said. He has submitted Anti-Pest-O to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for exemption from regulation as a non-toxic pest control chemical, as well as to the Maine and California organic farmers associations for approval for use on organic farms.

It is also selling well at the Urban Garden Store on Forest Avenue in Portland, White said.

The success so far has been encouraging, White and Cambridge said. Many people in different areas of the country have found it effective against a broad range of pests.

What’s more, Cambridge said, “They feel good about using it around their pets and children.”

With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the USDA banning a wide variety of pest-control chemicals for excessive toxicity or contamination of the food chain, Anti-Pest-O may come at a good time for farmers and gardeners. It is biodegradable, and if it proves effective in further trials, it could be made available for use in commercial agriculture.

At present, with the manufacturing of Anti-Pest-O set up in White’s cellar, they are only making 32-ounce spray bottles, one-gallon refills, and 16-ounce concentrates. But they do plan to do larger-scale manufacturing at an undetermined location in Greater Portland.

He is also planning for the next formula of Anti-Pest-O, which will be pH-balanced and contain nutrients to help plants grow.

“We’re helping nature and the environment,” White said.

Gorman gets jail time for probation violation

Published in the Current

Jeffrey Gorman of County Road in Scarborough, linked by court documents to the murder of Amy St. Laurent, will serve 90 days in the Cumberland County Jail for probation violation.

In a deal with the district attorney’s office in which he admitted to violating the terms of his probation, Gorman will get credit for the time he has spent in jail since his arrest in Alabama Dec. 11.

Gorman was arrested on a probation violation for a car stereo theft in Westbrook on Sept. 11, 2000. His request for bail was denied during the week of Dec. 17.

The Maine Department of Corrections had filed several motions to revoke Gorman’s probation, some of which had been recalled. The outstanding motions were filed Dec. 11, Dec. 26, and Jan. 2.

The reasons given for the revocation were failure to notify his probation officer of a change of address, failure to notify his probation officer of police contact on five occasions in October and November 2000, failure to report to his probation officer on Nov. 19, leaving the state without the written permission of his probation officer, and engaging in new criminal conduct in Troy, Ala.

St. Laurent went missing Oct. 21 from Portland’s Old Port. Her body was found Dec. 8, less than a mile from Gorman’s home. A note in Gorman’s court records indicated that he was believed to have left Maine in mid-November and said he was a “prime suspect” in the St. Laurent case. Gorman was located in his hometown, Troy, Ala., and arrested Dec. 11 after a four-hour armed standoff with police.

Clifford Strike, Gorman’s attorney, maintains that his client is innocent in the murder of St. Laurent.

Gorman has yet to be charged in that crime. Strike told The Current, “I don’t expect him (Gorman) to be charged because he didn’t do it.”

As part of the deal between Gorman and the district attorney’s office, the state will drop the charge relating to the change of address.

The state has also put off any possible charges relating to the events in Alabama, though charges from that incident may be filed in the future.

The Dec. 11 motion to revoke probation was amended and approved, while the Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 motions were withdrawn by the state.