Thursday, April 25, 2002

Cape parent opposes class rank

Published in the Current

Tim Youmans, a parent of a student at Cape Elizabeth High School, wants to abolish the school’s practice of effectively listing class rank on transcripts sent with college applications, and the School Board agrees that it should be discussed.

A group will be formed at the beginning of the next academic year to explore the issue, including possibly surveying colleges to which Cape students tend to apply.

Youmans said reporting class rank can hurt some students’ chances of getting into the college of their choice, but leaving it off will not hurt the chances of top students.

Four years ago, the district discussed the issue and ended up at a point where specific class rank was not indicated on transcripts, but a student’s grade point average (GPA) was reported, along with the GPA range of the class as a whole.

From that information, Youmans argued before the board at its April 23 workshop meeting, a brief look can tell college admissions officers roughly what an applicant’s class rank is, and certainly whether a student is in the top 10 or 20 percent of the class.

In the discussions four years ago, Youmans said, much was made of a 1993 National Association of Secondary School Principals study, in which, Youmans said, the words support reporting of class rank, but the numbers do not.

“Colleges and high schools really do agree that class rank isn’t that important in college admissions,” Youmans said.

Youmans said he has discussed the issue with high school Principal Jeff Shedd, school district Superintendent Tom Forcella and high school guidance counselor, Sharon Merrill. But in those discussions, he said, he saw a need for further discussion.

Shedd said he has asked for comment from parents. He said that while he was not at the high school in 1998 when the topic was last discussed, he understood that the decision at that time was “not only based on the survey but also the experience and feelings of students, parents and teachers.”

Shedd said one concern Merrill—who was not present at the meeting— has voiced to him is that if class rank is eliminated, colleges will place additional emphasis on other statistics, including standardized test results.

That would help some kids and hurt others, Shedd said.

“The elimination of class rank would not only benefit the bottom 80 percent, but—contrary to my assumption—it would have no effect on our top kids,” Youmans said.

“Our kids are competing with kids from other schools to get into college,” Youmans said. “They’re not competing with each other to get into college.”

Forcella said some colleges use class rank as a means by which to make a first cut, summarily eliminating students below a certain rank in their classes. He said leaving class rank off could force schools to actually look at a student’s application.

Board member Kevin Sweeney reminded the board that the district’s mission statement does not talk about admission to college, but instead talks about creating good citizens. He said he is in favor of “anything that gives kids the maximum number of options on graduation day. ”

Cape prepares budget presentation

Published in the Current

A bit of last-minute budget relief may have arrived for the Cape Elizabeth School Board, though not from the source, or of the magnitude, that a state education funding increase could have provided.

The district last week locked in the price of heating oil at 80 cents per gallon, according to district Business Manager Pauline Aportria.

When approved, the budget included projected costs of $1 per gallon. The reduced cost will provide a savings of $27,000.

The School Board did not decide what to do with the money, which could be rolled over into the budget for the 2003-2004 school year or used to reduce the amount of the tax increase.

If applied to tax reduction, it would lower the projected tax increase by four cents, to 94 cents per thousand, or an increase of $188 for a home valued at
$200,000. That is just for the school portion of the budget.

The board will make a formal presentation of the budget to the council and the public Monday evening, at 7:30 p.m., in the Town Council Chambers.

At the School Board’s monthly workshop April 23, board member and Finance Committee Chairman Kevin Sweeney outlined his plans for the meeting. He said he will make two major points: the board trusts the administration and “it’s the kids,” Sweeney said.

A further major point, he said, is that it is wrong to think there were no cuts in this budget. “We have, in fact, reduced the budget—the operating budget—by $162,000,” Sweeney said.

The budget presentation summarizes the issues facing the district: contractually obligated pay and benefits expenses, legally required special education costs, enrollment issues, and the already-delayed purchase of an additional bus.

It will end with a comparison of Cape Elizabeth’s spending increase this year, and its per-pupil operating costs, with those in nearby districts including Scarborough, South Portland and Gorham.

The per-pupil spending chart, said board member Marie Prager, “doesn’t show us at the top, and it doesn’t show us at the bottom.”

Sweeney said that in the area of expenditure, “the basic thrust that we’ve adopted is to be in the middle.”

Prager emphasized, “this is in terms of cost, not student achievement.”

Board chair George Entwistle said the numbers show “we have created a quality program and we have been able to do that more efficiently and cost-effectively than these other towns.”

Sweeney will lead the board’s presentation, and will point out items that never made the budget, as well as programs and services that were cut.

The board’s five-year plan is one of the casualties of state funding cuts, and Prager, who helped devise the plan, said it is “shot to hell.”

Enrollment issues and class size are expected to be subjects of discussion by the Town Council and the board. Enrollment is projected to decrease by five students across the district, but the number of second-graders and a 50-student rise at the high school will require additional staff.

Superintendent Tom Forcella has prepared a packet of information for the councilors, to help explain class size and teacher load issues in Cape and how they could affect educational quality.

Forcella noted that total teacher load, especially at the high school level, is the determining factor in educational quality, not class size.

“It’s how many papers you have to correct,” he said, adding that the research he has seen shows that about 80 students is a good load without a negative impact on students.

Some high school teachers next year will have student loads over 100, according to Principal Jeff Shedd.

Town Council Finance Committee Chair Jack Roberts said the council has been occupied with other aspects of the municipal budget, and he would not know much about the councilors’ opinions on the school budget until the
two boards had met.

Cape considers all-day kindergarten

Published in the Current

The Cape Elizabeth School Board will consider going to all-day kindergarten to help plan for a building project that would expand Pond Cove to house kindergarten classes.

The board plans to use old research from a few years ago, when the town first considered going to all-day kindergarten, and gather new information from other districts that have already switched to all-day kindergarten.

A committee recommended implementing all-day kindergarten a few years ago, but the district did not have enough space for it at the time, according to School Board member Elaine Moloney.

Moloney was part of the group that discussed the issue in the late 1990s and now will lead the effort to summarize those findings and report to the board.

The issue has come up again as a result of the planning phase of the building project. If Cape wants all-day kindergarten in the future, building space for it now would be most cost-effective, according to School Board member and Building Committee Chairman Marie Prager.

There is evidence that all-day kindergarten can provide an academic benefit to kids in an urban environment, many of whom have not attended preschool, according to Prager and Superintendent Tom Forcella. They do not have information about its effectiveness in an environment like Cape Elizabeth.

Prager said other benefits of all-day kindergarten can include increased socialization of children, and reduced pressure on kids and teachers alike to pack as much as possible into a two-and-a-half hour kindergarten session.

As part of her reporting, Moloney will follow up on nearby schools that have implemented all-day kindergarten to see what they have experienced. She said one option could be extending the length of kindergarten sessions beyond their current schedule but still less than a full day.

She said some other districts offer a free half-day kindergarten and have made it possible for parents to pay for an extended kindergarten session, but she did not know the details or legalities concerned with such an idea.

Moloney expects to have a report back to the board later in the spring or early summer, to fit in with the planning of the Pond Cove expansion.

Forcella has said that all-day kindergarten will not necessarily begin as soon as construction is complete and that he expects it to be phased in over a period of time.

Racing around the world

Published in the Current

Peter Pendleton, formerly of Cape Elizabeth, can truthfully call the sea his home. At 30, he is a professional sailor racing around the world in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Pendleton went to middle school and high school in Cape. “I grew up sailing at the Portland Yacht Club in Falmouth,” he said. He started in the sailing and racing program for little kids, and eventually dropped out of college after a couple of years to be on the water.

“I started to sail professionally more than I was actually in the classroom,” Pendleton said.

He started on the pro sailing circuit in Europe, with non-stop work. “It was regatta-regatta-regatta-regatta,” he said.

He has captained several racing boats, and has managed to become part of a team of sailors. “You hook up with a bunch of guys,” he said, and get approached by the owner of a racing boat who wants you to sail it.

“I hooked myself up with a bunch of guys from New Zealand,” he said, and was part of the crew of Young America, which broke in half trying to win back the America’s Cup from the New Zealand team in Auckland in 1999.

Prior to the Volvo Ocean Race, Pendleton was in charge of building the boats for two Nautor Challenge teams competing in the race. “We built two boats in six months,” he said, the fastest Whitbread-class boat construction ever.

The Volvo race began in September from Southampton, England, with a 28-day first leg to Cape Town, South Africa. Pendleton’s boat, Amer Sports One, took second place in that leg, but only managed fifth place of eight teams on the next leg, a 24-day sail to Sydney, Australia.

“We had a guy that actually became very ill on the boat,” Pendleton said. The Australian Navy delivered medical supplies to the boat at sea, and then the boat came in toward land near Perth, in western Australia, to get the sick man to medical care.

“We were a man down for about 2,000 miles,” Pendleton said.

The third leg, a nine-day trip to Auckland, New Zealand, via Hobart, Tasmania, brought Amer Sports One in second place, but there was a lot of strange weather.

Large forest fires were raging outside Sydney at the time, Pendleton said, which meant there was smoke and a lot of hot air in the area. “We started the race and came offshore and got hit by a tornado,” he said.

The fourth leg was to Rio de Janeiro. The boat was in second place until 30 miles from the finish, when “we put ourselves into a nice no-wind hole and watched the whole fleet sail by.”

But for most of the trip, things were going very well. “The best sailing that I’ve ever done in my life was our leg four,” he said. The route took him below 60 degrees South latitude, into the Antarctic Convergence, with temperatures in the single digits and the wind at 30 to 40 knots.

“When we were going downwind, we were going really fast,” Pendleton said. “That was the most exhilarating sailing I’ve ever done.”

It helped that there were giant icebergs to be avoided amid the darkness and in heavy weather. “This is the most scared I’ve ever been but this is great,” Pendleton remembered feeling.

The race will go through Miami, Baltimore, La Rochelle, France, and Goteborg, Sweden, and will finish with a 24-hour race to Kiel, Germany. Pendleton said he expects to finish June 19, and he’s not sure what he’ll do then.

“It’s been really tough on my wife,” he said. She is at home in Annapolis, Md., with a 10-month-old boy and a four-year-old daughter.

In the last 10 years, he said, he hasn’t been home much. Often it’s three weeks away for every week at home. And in the past year, he has spent 30 days at home.

“That’s what sailing does. It’s really hard for me, especially with the kids growing up,” he said.

House near school billed as sex club

Published in the Current; co-written with Brendan Moran

A house next to the Blue Point Elementary School on Pine Point Road in Scarborough was advertising itself on the Web as a swingers club known as Club Vision until February, when the owners of the home and police found out about it.

Once the club closed, it began using its web site to encourage patrons to use other clubs in the area, including another home-based club called Wildflower’s in Scarborough and a commercial lounge in Lewiston.

The owners of the home at 170 Pine Point Road, Philip and Kathleen McKay, have filed eviction proceedings against the former tenants, identified as Adam Goodwin and Jen Kole, who have moved out. According to court documents, no one appeared on behalf of the tenants to contest the eviction. The Current was unable to find phone numbers for Goodwin and Kole, who have apparently moved out of Scarborough. A toll-free number listed on the web site was disconnected. An e-mail to an address on the site didn’t get a reply.

Police began investigating activity at the home after the McKays reported it to them. They later dropped the investigation after the tenants moved out.

Police Chief Robert Moulton said his department would only be interested in possible criminal activity, such as the illegal sale of liquor or prostitution, and none was found. “We haven’t had any information come forward that there was any big violations,” he said.

Activity occurred at night, and the principal of the Blue Point School, Susan Helms, said she didn’t know anything about the house next door and hadn’t heard any complaints from parents.

The police and owners were unaware of a web site devoted to the club, www.clubvisionmaine.com, and another swingers club in Scarborough that the site refers to. Swinging is commonly known as partner swapping.

The site, which is registered to Goodwin, says the club is closed and looking for a new location to expand. It says the club plans to re-open in late spring. While the club was closed, the site recommended patrons go to another club in Scarborough known as Wildflower’s and a club in Lewiston.

E-mails on an Internet group for swingers indicated Wildflower’s was located at an address on Broadturn Road. But a woman who answered the door at the residence denied the home was being used as a swingers club.

The club in Lewiston and the two clubs in Scarborough are the only clubs in Southern Maine, according to e-mails on Internet groups for swingers.

According to its website, “Club Vision is Maine’s premier couples club, located near Portland.”

The web site reads, “We are a full on premises club that is very discreet and professional. We are a BYOB club, so you don’t have to worry about expensive drink prices. There will be a hot and cold buffet served,
non-alcoholic drinks will be provided.”

It also cautions guests to be courteous and understand they have the right to say “no” at any time. “Do not allow yourself to become sexually involved with anybody that you are not interested in. You are in the lifestyle to enjoy yourself, so only do what you want, when you want and with whom you want.” The site goes on to advertise a hot tub, pool table, private rooms and a lounge area.

The McKays, who live in New Hampshire, confirmed that they found out about the swingers club from a neighbor and alerted police.

But they declined to comment because of their ongoing eviction suit, which was filed on Feb. 20.

The suit alleges Goodwin and Kole, who moved into the house in October, broke the rental agreement by making unauthorized alterations to the house and running a business in the home.

According to court documents, Goodwin and Kole allegedly installed a gas heating system, new flooring and a hot tub in the garage.

In the McKays’ complaint they allege, “Defendants have breached Maine law and local ordinance by construction of alterations to the premises and the conduct of a business in the premises…Defendants are operating a nightclub/singles bar and facility in the home,” the suit read.

A neighbor who asked not to be identified said he had heard the neighbors working in the garage late at night and saw them bringing furniture in and out of the house. He never met Goodwin or Kole and said he assumed they had made arrangements with the landlord to renovate the house.

During the fall and winter, he said the tenants were throwing parties four or five nights a week. He would often hear music coming from the home until late at night. One night during the winter, he looked out the window and saw two women in negligees carrying what looked like two bottles of wine walking from the garage to the house. “They weren’t going to bake cookies. That was for sure,” he said.

The Current first learned of neighborhood concerns when a woman who identified herself as the mother of a Blue Point Elementary School student called to say there was a swingers club being operated next to the school.

Robert McGinley, the founder of the National Swing Club Association, estimated there are 400 active swing clubs and many more private homes that have swinging parties nationally. He also estimated there are 10,000 swinging couples in the U.S. The association defines swinging as sexual contact with someone other than a person’s partner or spouse, with that partner’s consent.

“The lifestyle is a rapidly emerging economic powerhouse,” said McGinley, with events like the July 2001 Annual Lifestyles Convention in Las Vegas, which was sponsored by major resorts and airlines.

“It attracts couples that really have it together as a relationship,” said McGinley, who also has a degree in the psychology of human sexuality.

Partners who swing are typically open and honest with each other, which is “not typical of a so-called traditional marriage.”

“Swinging is not just sex. It’s the freedom to be with people you enjoy,” he added.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Cancer survivor says diet saved her life

Published in the Current

When asked how she has managed to remain alive, Meg Wolff just smiles. In 1990, she lost a leg to cancer, and in 1997 she underwent surgery for aggressive breast cancer that doctors told her would return within a year.

But the cancer has not returned, and Wolff, who lives on the ocean in Cape Elizabeth, thinks she may have come up with a cure for cancer: macrobiotic eating.

“I really believe you can cure cancer with diet,” Wolff said.

The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, is doing a study on alternative ways of dealing with cancer, and is exploring macrobiotic eating too.

“So much of modern food (production) is about promoting growth,” Wolff said. And, she said, cancer is really just a group of cells that grow too quickly.

Now 44, Wolff has studied at the Kushi Institute in Massachusetts, and teaches macrobiotic cooking at the Cancer Community Center in South Portland.

She also teaches classes at several locations in the Bethel area, where she lives during the school year to be able to cook for her children, who went to Cape schools until they decided to pursue skiing more seriously.

Her son is now a sophomore at Gould Academy and her daughter is in sixth grade at Hebron Academy.

“I’m committed to cooking for my kids as long as they are in high school,” she said.

“I try to offer them healthy choices at home,” she said. “I think hopefully they’ll make good choices when they go elsewhere.”

When she was sick a few years ago, she read a book by a doctor who had cured himself of an incurable form of cancer with macrobiotic eating, and began to look into it.

“I was just thinking diet for health,” Wolff said.

Her first challenge was to find out what macrobiotics really is. Rather than a specific set of dishes, macrobiotics prescribes diet as a ratio of ingredients.

According to macrobiotics rules, 50 to 60 percent of the food should be whole grains, including brown rice, barley, millet and quinoa; 25 to 35 percent should be vegetables. Five to 10 percent should be beans and bean products, including tofu and tempeh.

Five percent should be nuts and seeds and other “supplementals,” Wolff said, and 5 percent should be soups.

“They suggest that you eat foods that are grown in your climate,” Wolff said. “Organic is what’s really stressed.”

She suggests buying local at places like farm stands and the farmer’s markets in Portland.

It’s not quick and easy. Making meals can be time-consuming, she said, and can require work.

“It just takes motivation and patience,” she said. And a rearrangement of priorities. “Now different things are important to me,” she said.

Part of the success of the diet, she said, is that it’s “food like our ancestors ate,” grown naturally and unprocessed.

“If you’re eating all this stuff that’s filled with life, then they’re going to give you life,” Wolff said. It’s a big contrast to modern diet. “Nutrition-wise we’re pretty poverty-stricken,” she said.

“It’s lifestyle too,” Wolff said. “I really think that diet is a foundation for good health.”

So why don’t more people eat this way?

“I think people just don’t believe that food can make them feel that way,” Wolff said, adding that more people are starting to eat better food, but still want meals that are quick and easy to prepare. “I think people want a magic bullet or pill,” Wolff said.

Despite her diet and her dedication to eating well, she is easygoing on others.

“I try not to be the food police,” Wolff said. “It’s not an all-or-nothing thing.” She encourages people to eat even one macrobiotic meal each week, to begin adapting their diets.

She says it can help, and talks about her own experience.

Her doctors didn’t know what to do with her breast cancer, fearing it could return at any moment.

“I felt like every doctor looked at me with a really sad face,” Wolff said. They recommended a bone-marrow transplant, but she had a gut feeling it would kill her.

“Kind of a light bulb went off in my head,” Wolff said. “I needed to play all my cards.”

So she learned about macrobiotics and made the change, initially cooking macrobiotic meals for herself and other meals for the rest of her family. But she phased them into it, giving them small side dishes of what she was eating.

Eventually the whole family started eating macrobiotics. It keeps her healthy, and her kids as well. “When everything’s going around, they never get sick,” Wolff said.

Her advice for introducing healthy cooking into family life sounds a lot like her approach to cancer. “Don’t be overwhelmed by it,” Wolff said.

Denial adds to drug problem in Cape Elizabeth

Published in the Current

While anecdotal evidence and a two-year-old survey confirm that Cape teens are keeping up with national statistics when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse, local police, counselors and educators says it’s tough to get parents concerned about the problem.

“The kids like to party, just like they do in other communities,” said police Detective Paul Fenton. He has no hard data, but senses that half of the students at the high school have used marijuana or alcohol.

He gets his numbers from anecdotes and interviews of teens he catches with drugs or alcohol. But kids don’t talk much. “They don’t want to rat their friends out,” Fenton said.

He said marijuana is used more than alcohol, because it is easier to get. And, he said, in the past six months the town has seen a “huge influx” of other drugs, including OxyContin, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and abuse of
Ritalin.

“Heroin is in Cape Elizabeth. It’s a fact,” Fenton said.

There are teens who are doing heroin in town, and it’s not just school drop-outs. It’s kids who are doing well, Fenton said.

All the kids in town have a lot of pressure, to work hard in school and do well in athletics, Fenton said. When they go out, they want to escape. So drug users are not just kids you might stereotypically expect to be on drugs, he said.

“There are the kids that are, quote-unquote, the perfect kid,” Fenton said.

As a result of the drug problem, crime has increased a bit, including a Jan. 6 spree of vehicle, garage and shed break-ins in the Scott Dyer Road and Brentwood area. There is even some small-scale drug dealing in town, Fenton said. Some kids come to Cape to buy drugs, while others from Cape go elsewhere, like Portland.

If parents want to find out if their kids may be drinking, Fenton suggested a quick look at their kids’ wallets. Many kids in town, he said, carry fake IDs right next to their own real IDs.

A survey of sophomores done two years ago – the most recent numbers available – back up what Fenton says.

According to the “Monitoring the Future” survey, done by the University of Michigan, nearly 80 percent of the respondents had taken at least one drink in the previous 12 months, and one-third had consumed alcoholic beverages 10 or more times.

Further, nearly 37 percent of the respondents had been “drunk or very high from drinking alcoholic beverages during the last 30 days.”

Ninety-three percent of students felt alcohol was “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get.

And while 59 percent of the students had not used marijuana or hashish in the 12 months preceding the survey, 19 percent had used the drug 10 or more times in that period, and 24.8 percent had used marijuana in their lifetimes, with 85.8 percent of the students thinking marijuana was “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get.

As for other drugs, 27.7 percent had used at least one illicit drug other than marijuana. And 39.6 percent of students said someone had offered to sell or give them an illegal drug while at school, in the previous 12 months.

But surveys can be a challenge to undertake and when the results come back.

“There’s this denial of any issues,” said Terry Johnson, co-chair of the Cape Community Coalition, which works to help teens feel more connected to the community, through group discussions and student-tostudent mentoring programs.

“Doing these surveys can be very problematic for the schools,” he said, pointing to schools in other states that have been sued for doing a survey.

“Fear drives people to not do these things,” Johnson said. “Nobody wants to admit there’s a problem.”

But sticking the town’s collective head in the sand, he said, is not a good idea.

“That whole denial piece is really contributing to the problem,” Johnson said. That’s true not just in Cape Elizabeth, but throughout Maine and the nation.

Parents often know
Parents play a big role in enabling teen drinking, according to both kids and police. This poses problems with the law, responsibility and behavior modeling.

Some parents prefer that their children drink at home, presuming that their houses are safer than other places kids would find to drink. But police say parents sometimes come home to find several thousand dollars’ worth of jewelry or other possessions missing.

And even if parents are away when a party occurs, liability for accidents—including car crashes after people leave the party—rests with the homeowner.

“You are responsible, even though you’re not present,” said Officer Paul Gaspar.

If parents leave kids at home, they should come to the police station and sign a form giving police permission to enter their homes if there is anything suspicious going on.

Without that authorization, police who get turned away at the door to a house by a partying teen-ager can’t break up the party.

Parties in the woods can be hard to track down without help from the neighbors who call to report them. When police do find and break up a party, parental cooperation is necessary but sometimes hard to get.

When the police call and say their kid has been caught with alcohol, parents will try to get a summons dropped, saying they teach their kid to “drink responsibly,” Fenton said.

But when the same kid gets a speeding ticket, he said, parents don’t try to get their kid out of trouble by saying they teach their kids to “drive responsibly.”

It’s a double standard that is dangerous for parents and for kids, he said.

When cops tell parents what the kids are doing, parents don’t believe it. But, Fenton said, they should. “I have no reason to lie,” he said.

When he warns parents, he’s helping them catch a problem before it becomes big, not criticizing them for being bad parents, he said.

And parents who fight back against drug and alcohol use among kids become a minority. “There seems to be some social stigma with doing the right thing,” Gaspar said.

They get in bickering matches about who actually brought the bottle of booze the kids were caught with. That misses the point, Gaspar said. “They don’t say, ‘One of our kids had booze and they both hang out together.’”

Parents not stepping up to the plate can be a big problem, he said. They don’t always ask questions or call other parents to verify their kids’ plans.

“It doesn’t mean you don’t trust your kid,” Gaspar said.

And, he pointed out, kids do lie. They follow the example adults set for them. When they see their parents lie, or encounter some parents who use drugs and alcohol with kids, the ethical picture becomes cloudy.

The bigger picture, Gaspar said, is that there is a cultural desensitization to teen-age drinking. Adults set an example, he said. They drink at the office Christmas party and then drive home.

Wanting kids to have friends and be part of the “in crowd” can also take its toll, especially if parents reinforce cliquish behavior. “Even the parents will buy into that,” Fenton said.

Cape teens, according to Johnson of the Cape Coalition, have problems feeling valued if they’re not in sports or on the honor roll, but Johnson said it’s easy to help. “Know the kids in your neighborhood. Say ‘hi’ to them on the street,” he said.

And develop a support structure for parents who will report incidents to police.

“You need to develop accepted codes of conduct for parents,” Johnson said. Parents are sometimes nervous to create tension between neighbors or friends by calling the police.

“A parent doesn’t want to take action because of how other kids will treat their kids at school,” Johnson said.

School efforts
Adults in the schools also struggle with drug and alcohol use. It is less obvious in Cape schools than in other communities, but no less a concern.

At other high schools where Principal Jeff Shedd has worked, he would walk down the hall and now and again smell marijuana on a student. That hasn’t happened so far to him in Cape, he said.

“It’s less overt here,” Shedd said.

But with a high-pressure school environment and expectations that this is to be “the best times of their lives,” he said, drugs and alcohol can be a way to escape.

“Some kids can use alcohol or marijuana and seem to be able to function,” Shedd said.

Though some of the kids are good at hiding their use when at school, if students are caught red-handed, parents tend to cooperate with the schools, Shedd said.

Even then, the law is not very clear. The legal consequences for smoking a cigarette on school grounds are “more certain and severe” than with marijuana, Shedd said. And the consequences for having paraphernalia are greater than for having a drug itself, or for being under the influence of the drug.

One of the causes of drug and alcohol use can be the stress students are under, including pressure to be involved with a lot of activities. Health teacher Andrea Cayer said involvement in extracurricular activities is one way to help kids stay off drugs, but too many activities, with a lot of pressure to succeed, can end up doing more harm than good.

“Our culture doesn’t support a lifestyle of moderation,” she said, suggesting students and parents alike be kept busy but not over-committed.

Many colleges, she said, are more interested in an applicant doing a few activities well for a long period of time, a change from the mid-1980s when colleges rewarded students who were involved in many different activities.

Whatever the cause, Cayer said, the problem of abuse has to be addressed at home.

“I don’t know how much more school can do,” she said, laying responsibility at the door of parents, whom she said don’t always listen before reacting to drug and alcohol use.

Adolescents are in the process of figuring out who they are, separate from their parents. That means they will challenge values, rules and boundaries, Cayer said. They need risk and adrenaline highs, but in safe environments.

“Kids want to be listened to without judgment,” Cayer said. She suggests parents keep communication lines open, so kids don’t have to hide. That can be hard, especially if parents disagree strongly with what kids are saying.

Cayer noted that family can also be a source of stress from which students seek to escape with drugs and alcohol.

Parents, she said, should resist the urge to solve problems for their kids, opting instead to keep them safe while they figure out things on their own.

Cayer reminds parents that good kids can do bad things. “Separate behavior from who the person is,” she said. “Our children aren’t perfect.”

“Kids want to be able to make it through their teen years in a safe environment,” she said. The burden is on parents, teachers and others to provide that.

One of those efforts is the Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education, or DARE, program. It is a regular feature in Cape’s elementary and middle school classrooms. But its effectiveness is limited.

Officer Gaspar, who coordinates the DARE program in Cape schools, said it’s a matter of expectation. With 50 minutes one day a week, he said, “what do you hope to achieve?”

He compared that to the hours of television and movies and music that kids have access to, and in which they hear and see messages indicating that drugs and alcohol are acceptable, if not desirable.

That message even makes it into the schools: Gaspar has heard references to drug use in popular music played at high school and middle school events.

DARE also addresses the consequences of individual actions. People make bad choices and make mistakes, he said. “It’s how you deal with that.”

Adults play into the dynamic of avoiding consequences, Gaspar said, protecting their kids by paying fines for them or otherwise deflecting blame from the kids.

“Everybody shares a part in it,” Detective Fenton said. Neighbors who don’t report the destruction of mailboxes or gardens are a part of the problem, he said, because they allow people to get away with misbehaving.

Cayer suggested people take the focus off kids who make bad decisions and instead ask, “what does it take to be a healthy adolescent?”

Community-minded adults
Some adults in town are working on the problem, but they say it is hard to get parents interested.

Norm Boucher, a prevention educator at Day One, a Fort Williamsbased statewide organization helping young people between the ages of 16 and 24 deal with drug and alcohol use, said the biggest weapon in the fight is information.

Boucher makes awareness and education presentations in schools and communities around the state, but getting the word out isn’t easy.

“It’s a tough battle,” he said. “Very few people show up to awareness nights. Parents don’t show.”

Parental support is important when dealing with teens, he said. The law is black and white, but, Boucher said, “the community doesn’t back (the laws).”

“The grown-ups aren’t encouraging (drinking) but they’re certainly not discouraging (it),” Boucher said. “The biggest enablers are the parents,” he said. “The kids don’t use (drugs) in a vacuum.”

“If parents really meant their threats, it could work,” Boucher said. And parents must back up the police when they get involved.

“Most of the affluent communities want to believe that the problem is in Portland,” Boucher said. But he pointed to the recent deaths of three Portland teenagers on Tukey’s Bridge. They were northbound on I-295 and heading out of the city.

“The Portland kids who want to party go to the affluent communities because that’s where the best drugs are and the best parties and the best booze,” Boucher said.

While Day One is a statewide organization, the Cape Community Coalition focuses on teen issues in town.

Co-chair Johnson agrees that keeping the interest of parents is a sizeable challenge.

“After a crisis you’ll get lots of people. That’ll last a couple of weeks,” he said.

But now, the turnout is small and usually involves one or two new people, and the regular folks who show up at all the coalition events.

“If we get 15 people, we consider it a success,” Johnson said.

The focus, Johnson said, is working on developmental assets that relate to kids’ success and good choices in behavior.

In addition to community conversations, in which a larger audience splits into small discussion groups to address certain issues, the coalition has two student-to-student mentoring programs, one for high school students to help middle schoolers, and the other for middle school students to work with students at Pond Cove.

The coalition also sponsored the climbing wall at the high school, as an activity that challenges kids and allows them to take risks in a safe environment, Johnson said.

The focus is on high school and middle school students. Getting the attention of middle school and elementary school parents has been “a lot harder than we thought,” Johnson said.

What teens think
Teens also think parents have a hard time with the issue of drugs and alcohol, but admit students can have an even harder time dealing with use among their peers.

“I see a lot of risky behavior and I see a lot of na├»ve parents,” said Cara Jordan, a senior at CEHS who joined the Cape Coalition as a freshman.

Alex Weaver, a senior and the coalition’s co-chair, said he sometimes feels “helpless” when facing drinking and drug use among his peers.

He said adults are often in attendance at coalition meetings, but students are rarer.

“It’s the kind of thing that a lot of kids know about,” Weaver said, but their schedules don’t always allow them to attend. “I don’t think they look at the meetings and don’t want to go,” Weaver said.

Though attendance is small, the programs work. “I think definitely the people who come have been affected,” Weaver said. Parents who attend, he said, go home and talk to their kids about the issues raised at coalition meetings.

Parents do want to get involved and help. “Parents just don’t know what to do,” Jordan said. She offers a suggestion, one the coalition is already doing: “Get kids and adults together and start talking about drinking.”

Parents can find themselves in a strange position, Jordan said. Knowing that kids are pretty likely to drink, should they let their kids drink at home, where the environment may be safer?

Another problem, Jordan said, is “they know what kids do but they don’t want to believe it’s their kids doing it.”

Some adults are especially concerned, she said. “A lot of parents of younger children want to hear what the high school students have to say so they can be prepared,” Jordan said.

Weaver said, “A lot of kids do (drugs or alcohol) because they don’t have anything else to do.”

Others find activities to keep them busy, and the users and the nonusers tend not to mix, he said. “The kids who do (drugs or alcohol) don’t tend to associate with the kids who don’t do it,” Weaver said.

The coalition will hold a community dialogue in early May about parents and drug and alcohol abuse in teen-agers, asking, “What are the things that we do that help create the problem?” Johnson said.

Students take PATHS toward careers

Published in the Current; co-written with Kate Irish Collins

Dustin Perreault, a senior at Scarborough High School, wants to be a diesel engine technician. He already has a job waiting for him after graduation in June and credits the auto body program at the Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS) for getting him ready.

Perreault is among 26 Scarborough students and nine Cape Elizabeth students attending PATHS this year. These students are learning trades from video production to fashion merchandising to commercial art. Other programs include dance and music, horticulture and masonry.

Students at SHS have the opportunity to learn a skill or trade by attending either PATHS or the Westbrook Regional Vocational Center. “These two schools offer our students 27 different programs that we would not be able to produce locally,” said Scarborough schools Assistant Superintendent David Doyle. No students from Cape attend Westbrook Vocational.

Both Scarborough and Cape students attending vocational classes still earn their core credits in English, math, social studies, science and physical education at their hometown high schools.

Value for the dollar
Scarborough pays $140,533 for students to attend these vocational programs. The amount each sending school is assessed is based on a percentage of the average number of students that have attended over the past two years. “The amount we spend is less than one percent of the overall operating budget,” Doyle said.

Cape Elizabeth pays $84,124 for students to attend PATHS. “It’s really a bargain,” said Cape School Board member Kevin Sweeney, who is also chair of the PATHS general advisory council. “PATHS offers a huge number of programs,” Sweeney said. In the fall, the school will add a biotechnology program, in response to demand from Maine’s growing biotech sector for qualified workers. None of those programs, Sweeney said, could be offered in Cape. CEHS Principal Jeff Shedd wants students to consider PATHS more frequently. “I think our guidance counselors would like more students to go to PATHS,” Shedd said.

“It’s such a huge bargain for the buck,” Cal Chaplin, PATHS director, said. “Kids come here thinking they’re not students. At this school, they begin to see themselves as smart,” she said.

Westbrook offers programs in such trades as business and computer technology, driving commercial vehicles, automotives and the culinary arts. Westbrook has a restaurant that is open to the public and marketing students run the school store which brings in around $50,000 a year, said Westbrook Vocational Principal Todd Fields.

“We also offer medical occupations and students can graduate with a minimum of a certified nurse assistant’s training,” Fields said.

Student choice
PATHS serves 544 students from 23 high schools in Cumberland County and the town of Kennebunk in York County and was started in 1976. Westbrook Regional Vocational first opened its doors in 1963 and went through a renovation and addition project three years ago.

“Students at Scarborough self-select one of the two vocational schools to attend, depending on their talents and interests. Students are given a chance to tour each school and meet with perspective teachers,” Doyle said.

“This is a school of choice, which makes a big difference,” said PATHS guidance counselor, Frank Ingerowski. “The numbers are up in each program. We’re seeing a significant push towards learning a trade.”

“We do encourage our students to get a post-secondary education, mostly at the technical college level. We also have a number of students who do go into the work force after graduation and others choose the military,” he added.

“We encourage them to be in the business world,” Chaplin said. She is concerned that parents and students don’t think of PATHS when considering high school courses. “I think there’s a lot of educating we can do to attract more students,” Chaplin said.

Each of the school’s 24 programs has four or five business partners, who help make sure the skills students are learning are the ones they will use in the marketplace. Some businesses also offer internships or job-shadowing experience to PATHS students. “We’re constantly connected,” Chaplin said.

Learning skills
A food program also trains special education students to work in food service. “We cook here, we prep here,” said Cape Elizabeth student Paul Sandberg, gesturing to different sections of the kitchen. For the Thanksgiving harvest meal, the food workers served 700 people.

“I like it a lot. It’s more hands-on,” said Eddie Robbins, a junior at Cape Elizabeth High School in his third year at PATHS. He completed horticulture, and is now working on video production. The two and a half hours go quickly, he said. “It feels like a half-hour,” Robbins said.

“You get to really get involved with what you’re interested in,” said Derek Danie, a Cape sophomore in his first program, working with computers.

Scarborough senior Perreault would recommend the program at PATHS to others. “This is a great program if you like working with cars, especially restoration or collision work,” Perrault said. Perrault admits to missing some things at Scarborough High, but most of his friends are at PATHS.

Josie Hastings is a junior at Scarborough and is in the fashion-merchandising program at PATHS. She intends to go to Brooks College in California after graduation. “There’s more freedom here. I like it a lot better than Scarborough,” Hastings said.

Scarborough junior Joe Ellis is in the video technology program and is learning how to create professional video productions such as commercials and documentaries. “I love this place. I wish that I could take some of the basics here too,” Ellis said. “It was a little strange at first, traveling between the two schools, but now it’s easy. I would definitely recommend it here,” he added.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Hyperwave funding to expand U.S. sales operation

Published in Interface Tech News

WESTFORD, Mass. ‹ Knowledge management company Hyperwave ‹ with headquarters in Munich, Germany and North American offices based outside Boston ‹ has secured its targeted $18 million in second-round funding, and plans to expand its sales force in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and California.

Its flagship product, eKnowledge Infrastructure, is aimed at government, media firms, financial businesses, and pharmaceutical and biotech companies, according to company spokesman Chris Gregoire. In November 2001, the company released a major upgrade to the software package, which integrates document management, e-learning, and employee collaboration applications.

"Collaboration for us is the big thing," Gregoire said, citing work within companies and between firms and clients.

Founded in 1997, Hyperwave does not expect to pursue a third round of financing, but instead, is planning for an IPO at an unspecified future date, Gregoire said.

That may be a way off, according to senior analyst John Hughes at Delphi Group. Hughes has been following Hyperwave for several years, and said the company is doing well in its market niche, but is suffering ‹ along with its competitors ‹ in economic conditions that are less than optimal.

Hughes expects the company to remain ahead of the curve and bounce back more quickly than some of its competition, due primarily to its strength overseas.

"They've got some real respect and a notable following in Europe," Hughes said.

He went on to say that Hyperwave's task now is to get some success stories in the U.S., so it can point to real dollar savings when courting new customers.

"They just need to get that value statement out there to people who control budgets," Hughes said.

That is exactly what Gregoire claims the company plans to do.

"We know that we need to put the U.S. market on the map," he said.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Cape residents oppose user fees in schools

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth residents are against participation fees for school activities, but have few new suggestions for ways to cut the school budget this year.

At a School Board public meeting April 8, about 50 Cape residents met in the middle school cafetorium to address the question posed by School Board
member Jim Rowe: “Should the Cape Elizabeth school department consider implementing certain fees for extra-curricular and co-curricular activities at the high school and the middle school?”

If fees were implemented, participating high school students would pay $100 per year to cover all activities, and middle schoolers would pay $60 per year. There would be a family cap of $200. Activities affected would include all interscholastic sports and school activities that involve a lot of travel, including jazz bands and speech and debate clubs.

The majority of those attending the hearing opposed the fees, and e-mails sent in by people unable to attend were “running two-to-one against” fees, according to Superintendent Tom Forcella.

But the meeting brought renewed focus to Cape’s budget crisis, the worst ever. Cuts in state funding for Cape Elizabeth have resulted in a loss of nearly $450,000 in this year’s general purpose aid to education. Just making up that increase with property taxes would raise the tax rate 61 cents per thousand, hitting a homeowner with property valued at $200,00 with an additional $121 in property taxes.

“It’s the largest cut we’ve ever received from the state,” said Town Manager Michael McGovern.

The question, he said, is with a large number of homes in town without children, how much of the school budget should be passed on to taxpayers.

The School Board is expecting the Town Council to request a budget cut of an unspecified amount, Forcella said. The board is trying to sort out where cuts should be made.

Right now, the overall school budget is up 5.3 percent while the council had asked for a cap of 3 percent. At the meeting’s outset, Forcella, Rowe, board member Kevin Sweeney and Athletic Administrator Keith Weatherbie defended the budget and expressed frustration at state funding levels for education.

“For four years I have sat in January budget meetings and warned this community that we were getting killed by the state,” Sweeney said.

The situation now is so dire, he said, “we don’t know what else to do.”

“We are very near the bottom of our barrel of ideas,” Rowe said. Further cuts would hurt school programs, he said, so the question was “what’s going to be the least negative way” to handle the expected budget reduction.

“If not participation fees, then what?” Rowe asked.

Everything was discussed from raising money to increasing class sizes, and crossed the line into criticism of some town spending on recent projects.

Throughout the meeting, several people attempted a call-to-arms of Cape residents to fight Augusta for more school money.

Residents, concerned about rising property taxes forcing seniors out of town, searched for other ways to cut the budget without charging students fees, which many in the group felt didn’t belong in public education.

Among the suggestions were real - locating some funds from the town side to help the schools, providing fee exemptions for students participating in a small number of activities, and increasing class sizes.

Ken Johnson suggested cigarette companies, saying, “Philip Morris cannot give away the money that they have allocated for extracurricular activities.”

One resident asked what the impact would be on property taxes if the tax rate were used to make up the $50,000 participation fees are expected to raise for the district.

When told it would cost an additional $14 for a home valued at $200,000, she said, “Fourteen dollars a year is too much to ask Cape Elizabeth residents to pay?”

Derek Roy, a student at the high school, said he would not have joined the swim team if a fee had been required, and he thinks other students would also limit their activities to ease their family budgets.

“That closes a lot of doors for kids,” Roy said.

Allon Kahn, president of the high school’s Student Advisory Council, agreed. “Colleges these days almost require a great amount of extracurricular activities,” he said. Because figuring out what you’re good at takes time and a few tries, “it’s not right to close doors to kids that want to try things,” he said.

Town Council Chair Ann Swift-Kayatta appealed for help. “We need to keep the schools excellent in Cape Elizabeth,” she said. But at the same time, she wanted to keep taxes as low as possible. She warned of asking too much of Cape residents who are not parents.

Town Councilor Mary Ann Lynch asked how the board could be talking about cuts if the budget was projected to increase over 5 percent.

Sweeney explained that just by maintaining the current level of programs, without adding anything new, costs were rising, especially in the areas of salary and benefits.

Another resident asked if this would mean parents could spend less money. She had paid more than $200 each year for her kids’sports, in what she called “voluntary participation fees.” Forcella said booster fees would still be extras, and the school fees would offset the operation of the athletic program, rather than funding warm-up suits and training trips.

Sharlan Andrews owns a home in town but often travels with her husband on business. She said each time she returns to town she sees something new. Last year it was the town hall, she said, and this year it was the new police station. But now she hears there is pressure on the school budget. “Somewhere we’re having a budget breakdown in this town,” Andrews said.

Sweeney said it was citizen apathy that led to this problem. “We didn’t do anything,” he said, when the problem became clear several years ago. “Your Town Council and your School Board can’t do this alone. It’s up to you,” he said.

Sweeney admitted Cape can’t cry “poverty” with any kind of credibility, “but does that make it right to take money away from us?” he asked.

He suggested raising this issue with political candidates for statewide and national office. “Write to people who want to be governor,” he said.

High school English teacher Hannah Jones asked the community to be clear about its priorities, such as small classes and strong extracurricular activities, but warned that cuts were looming. “We are going to have to find some money somewhere,” Jones said.

“These are the budget years that really show a town’s commitment to the schools,” she said. “We need to make sure we don’t take (the shortfall) out of the kids’ hides.”

John Delahanty said he wanted to see more state support for Cape schools. “We’re paying a lot into the state, and we don’t get that much back,” he said. He wouldn’t want kids to have to make choices that would cost their parents even more money.

In response to a question about the Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation and its potential role in easing the budget crunch, Forcella said that is not the purpose of the foundation. Instead, he said, the foundation’s money is to cover expenses that are not normally in the operating budget, rather than items cut from the budget in a tight year.

Town Councilor Jack Roberts said he saw two main causes of the crunch. First, he said, “we wouldn’t even be here tonight if the state and federal governments were meeting their obligations.” And second, the lack of a business tax base in Cape means homeowners bear a high burden for school costs.

David Peary, a French teacher at the high school and also a Cape resident, said he would support the fees if only to set an example for the people in town who do not have kids in the school.

“This is the chance to tell the Town Council that parents care enough to pay even more,” he said. If the schools are asking everyone in town to “dig deep,” he said, parents should demonstrate their willingness to dig even deeper.

Scarborough YMCA moves forward

Published in the Current

Cumberland County YMCA officials have agreed that plans for a YMCA in Scarborough should move ahead, though a location and the services to be offered have yet to be decided.

In a meeting with Town Councilor Mark Maroon and YMCA supporters and residents, Steve Ives and Gary O’Donnell, representatives of the YMCA national organization, released the results of a survey of Scarborough community members.

“The report is highly satisfactory,” said Dave Thompson, executive director of the Cumberland County YMCA, which would be the parent organization of a Scarborough Y.

The report indicates that not only is Scarborough in need of Y-type services, such as a pool, senior activities and children’s programs, but that the money-raising potential to support a Y is in place, Thompson said.

But he noted that the process is still in the very early stages.

“We’re not anywhere near saying where it’s going to be or what it’s going to look like,” Thompson said.

The next step will be for volunteers and Y board members, including Thompson, to come up with a timetable for the process.

“We’re going to take baby steps in it so we do it well,” he said.

Initially, some community programs will begin in the near future, at the same time as initial fund-raising efforts are made to raise the $250,000 needed to launch a major capital campaign.

Such a campaign would provide the money needed to build a Y, and could take three or four years to complete. Thompson is optimistic about the potential success of such an effort. “If the community wants (a Y), they’re going to be out in force to get it,” he said.

Part of that effort will be approaching people in town who could make major contributions to the effort. But he said the campaign would not include just the town of Scarborough. “The Y doesn’t belong to any municipality,” Thompson said.

Town Manager Ron Owens said, “it’s no surprise that there is enough interest and support here for a YMCA.”

“The critical next step is the need to raise the $250,000 to just get things underway. We’re just in the initial phases now, but I think that the town would be happy to provide the land,” Owens added.

“It will be up to the Y to do all the hiring and the staffing and the fundraising, including any use of corporate sponsors,” Owens said.

“I believe the Y could be the core for future programs whether for the youth, the seniors or the middle-aged. The town would definitely be interested in creating a partnership with the Y where we would try to meet most of the needs of those in town. My understanding is that the Y would offer exercise spaces, community meeting rooms, programming and of course the pool,” Owens said.

“Having a Y here would just be another thing that would keep the town an attractive place. We offer a lot here and the Y would add to that feeling that Scarborough is a good place to locate your business or your family,” he added.

Mark Maroon, a town councilor who made clear he is involved with the Y project as a citizen of Scarborough, and not as a councilor, said he was pleased to hear support not only for a Y but also for existing community services. “Most people believe that there could be a comfortable meshing between the two,” he said.

Maroon said he is opposed to spending town dollars on the Y project, preferring to let funds be raised from private contributions. He said it remained unclear how the town might contribute to the Y effort.

He added that people wanting to participate in the planning process should get in touch with him or Gary O’Donnell to express interest.

Thursday, April 4, 2002

Cape teacher up for top honors

Published in the Current

Kelly Hasson teaches first grade at Cape Elizabeth’s Pond Cove School, and the staff has recognized her for her work by nominating her for the Maine Teacher of the Year award. But she’s not getting a big head about it.

The 18-year veteran of Cape schools said, “I think of this honor as representing everyone here.” She added, “My colleagues are amazing.”

She is now one of 10 regional finalists, who will be narrowed down to four before the award is presented in a surprise ceremony in September.

“Teacher recognition is difficult,” said Tom Eismeier, the school’s principal. It’s hard to make sure all the people who do great work get noticed, he said. But the school’s teachers, at the request of several parents, nominated Hasson, the first such nomination from Pond Cove in recent memory.

“It means a lot more coming from parents and colleagues,” Hasson said.

At a recognition ceremony March 14 in the Hall of Flags in the Maine Statehouse, Hasson got to meet the other 22 nominees for the award. She also got to talk to legislators, and received a certificate from Gov. Angus King and state Education Commissioner Duke Albanese.

The wide range of students of each of the teachers didn’t seem to matter much, Hasson said. “There is a common thread to help children learn,” she said.

Hasson credits other teachers and the district’s administrators for their help in her work, including efforts for teacher professional development.

“There’s just an incredible amount of support for that,” Hasson said.

But she has had to work to get this far. She had to write essays on several aspects of education, taking time to reflect on what she does and why, she said.

“I had to really think about what I represent,” she said.

Colleagues, parents, and even a former student, now in third grade, wrote recommendations.

“The whole process has been really uplifting,” Hasson said.

She loves teaching first grade. “There’s so much growth that happens,” she said.

The big issue, she said, is literacy. “Reading and writing is integral to all aspects of learning,” Hasson said.

But larger than that, she said, is “my mission to instill a love of learning at a very early age. I believe everyone can learn.”

And she’s learning how much Cape values her, too. “I’ve been so touched by the support,” Hasson said.

Injured owl released in Cape

Published in the Current

A barred owl, blinded in one eye after being hit by a car Feb. 17, was released into the wild in Cape Elizabeth March. 28 by a volunteer from the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick.

Also present at the release were Kathy Hewins and Laurie Littlejohn, who were the driver and passenger, respectively, in the car that hit the owl. The bird was released near where the accident occurred, as Hewins, Littlejohn and others cheered.

When the owl was hit, Hewins stopped the car and Littlejohn was able to pick up the owl and cradle it in her arms while Hewins drove home, where they called the Center for Wildlife.

That evening, the two drove the bird to the Scarborough home of center volunteer, Nancy Robinson. The following morning, Robinson took the owl to the center, where it stayed until the day of its release.

The bird was blinded in its left eye in the accident, but its other eye, also injured, healed fully, Robinson said.

When released, the bird flew out of Robinson’s arms and up into a nearby tree, where it stayed for a few minutes before flying a bit farther into a stand of trees. Over the next several minutes, the owl flew deeper into the trees and out of view of the road.

Owls hit by cars are not uncommon in Cape, Robinson said, and their territorial nature means they have a good chance of survival, if they are released in their home area, she said.

Final Mile prepares to double staff

Published in Interface Tech News

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. ‹ Final Mile Communications has relocated its headquarters from Newington, N.H. to the Pease Tradeport.

As a result of the new location's increased space, additional services, and simplified logistics, the company expects to double its staff this year, beginning in April.

A new network operations center (NOC) to be constructed at Pease should be operational in late summer 2002, according to company spokesman Frank Budelman.

The search for the space began in late 2001, and has only now concluded with the departure of another company from Pease. The location is good for the company's communications and travel needs, Budelman said, providing easier access to highways for service technicians and other transportation infrastructure for shipping and receiving.

Final Mile spun out of Cabletron in the fall of 1999 and serves schools, colleges, hospitals, law firms, and other clients with high-capacity data networks, by providing wiring, collocation, and network maintenance.

When the NOC is completed, Budelman said, the company should be able to offer more services to more clients, with increased efficiency. "We'll be able to do everything to the desktop," he added.

Increased IT services are the next target for Final Mile, as well as expanding the company's client base. Budelman said the privately held company's position is solid, with around $10 million in annual revenue.

"We're in business and we don't plan to go out of business," he said. Staffing increases, he said, would be incremental based on the size of projects in the works.

Reports from the Aberdeen Group released in 2001 indicate not only that IT spending will climb by about 10 percent annually through 2005, but that field service support will be increasingly important to companies, whether they outsource or provide in-house services.