Thursday, May 30, 2002

Land Trust tour shows off Cape Elizabeth gems

Published in the Current

On a rainy Saturday, 11 Cape residents went on a tour of the town’s green spaces. It wasn’t a day for walking the trails, but a driving tour visited the 500 acres of land the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust has preserved.

With another 500 of town-owned acres also conserved of the 9,300 acres of land in Cape Elizabeth, land trust director and tour leader Susy Kist said, “well over 10 percent of Cape Elizabeth is protected in perpetuity.”

The first parcel visited on the tour held earlier this month was the first land the trust preserved, a three-quarter acre plot on Reef Road to which the trust holds a conservation easement. The spot has a beautiful view of Trundy Point, which Kist said is private land.

Kist said the land trust does approach owners of “significant parcels” of land in town to ask if the land can be conserved, but emphasized that all of the conservation is according to the wishes of the landowner.

“We wish to be a resource for voluntary land protection,” Kist said.

Many of the protected parcels throughout town have trails on them, and other property, including Gull Crest, which is next to the high school, has trails in the planning stages.

Trails through Gull Crest, Kist said, could help school athletic teams who now have to take a bus to get to the fields located on the other side of the conservation land. The complication, she said, is that the land between the fields and the high school is very wet and may require boardwalks or other construction.

The land trust has worked with landowners to protect woodland and open land near farms, and is in discussions with Billy Jordan and his family to conserve their farmland as a viable agricultural resource, Kist said.

The Dyer-Hutchinson Farm on Sawyer Road is home to one of the oldest farmhouses in town, which is now undergoing a renovation according to national historic preservation standards. New owner Jay Cox also will expand the business his parents run on nearby land with a Christmas tree farm, Kist said.

Farmland, she said, is “ideally developable land,” as it is already fairly free of rocks and does not have much ledge. Preparing the land for building, she said, is simple, which places farmland or former farms in danger of being developed rather than conserved.

Much of Cape’s land remains open though, giving Kist some good prospects. “In Cape we still have the potential to conserve hundreds of acres of land,” she said.

One example is Cross Hill. That development is on 200 acres of land, but half will remain open and unbuilt, Kist said. Each phase of the development has a trail network that ties into the entire development and the town greenbelt.

Other areas of town have smaller parcels of land protected and trail networks running through them. Two of the larger pieces are Hobstone Woods and Robinson Woods.

Hobstone Woods is the land originally slated for the third phase of the Hobstone development. The trust bought that land for $75,000.

Making the most out of high school

Published in the Current

As high school graduation approaches in Cape, the Current went out to find students who were determined to make the most out of their high school years. These are not the traditional high school stars, but they are clearly young people who are taking charge of their own destiny.

For Ryan Garrity, graduation day has been a long time coming, longer by a year than for many of his classmates. Garrity didn’t graduate last year, but decided he really wanted to make it this year. He buckled down and is proud of his achievements.

He will graduate with a cast on his right arm that keeps him from playing basketball, something he used to do daily. Instead, he has been keeping busy with his other hobbies, ones he hopes will turn into money someday: art and

He may be on the brink of discovering a gift. This year he took a number of art classes, and won $100 from the Cape Elizabeth Arts Commission for a piece of ceramic work he did. “It was actually the first ceramic thing I did,” Garrity said.

Drawing—usually with pen and ink—is another passion of his. “I want to make a comic book when I get older,” Garrity said. That may be another good beginning: he may yet find he has the drive and dedication to make it happen. “I can do it for hours,” he said.

And while many people fill high school notebooks with doodles or smiley faces, he focuses on humans. “I like drawing emotions,” Garrity said.

He is less hopeful about his music, as a white rapper from Cape Elizabeth probably should be. But that, too, he loves and can enjoy for hours on his own or with friends.

He said he didn’t start high school as a good student. “I didn’t like going to school,” Garrity said. But then last year he realized, “I’d rather be here than elsewhere. I saw where I could end up,” he said.

Watching his friends graduate a year ago, Garrity decided to finish high school. He said he has been accepted well by this year’s senior class.

Now he will finish his senior project – putting together a highlight video of the fifth-grade boys’ Amateur Athletic Union basketball team – and look for a job in Maine this summer, to be near friends.

He wants to go to college in the near future, and may move to Boston with some friends, he said.

Making the system work
The first thing Malarie Holcomb says about herself is that she has been taking figure skating lessons, and it’s a good metaphor for her life of new challenges and slippery rides.

She grew up the daughter of a Coast Guard officer who was transferred every few years. Before coming to Cape Elizabeth, she was at Massabesic High School. She moved to Cape Elizabeth as part of the state’s foster care system, which she entered at age 14.

“I’m actually one of the lucky ones,” she said. Other friends she has “in care,” as foster children say, are not so fortunate, she said. Holcomb hasn’t seen her father in six years, and hasn’t been allowed to speak to him either. She has been able to talk to her mother and brother, but hasn’t seen them in about three years.

When Holcomb moved to Cape she felt culture shock, she said. “It was hard at first,” Holcomb remembered of those first days and weeks at CEHS. She arrived halfway through her freshman year.

“People were nice but not inviting,” she said.

She soon decided to join activities and get involved at school, but even that was challenging. The swim team was more competitive than she had expected, but she met some friends. By senior year, she had a strong social network.

Holcomb is a friendly teen who is a bit nervous about all the reading she will have to do in college at UMaine-Farmington. This summer she may do some babysitting work, but plans to have some time off and relax, though she will head to UMF for a week in June to get a preview of college life.

Now 18, Holcomb is allowed to have more contact with her family, and graduation day will be the first day she has seen her father since she was in middle school. She’s a bit nervous about that, too.

Holcomb has earned a George Mitchell scholarship to help with college costs, and the state of Maine is picking up her tuition, as they do for former foster children who attend UMaine schools. And, as much as her foster family has changed her life, she too has influenced them.

Her foster mother, Lisa Kittredge, said of Holcomb, “she is one of my heroes.”

Community first
Mike Walsh has one of those friendly, approachable faces found in a naturally community-minded person. He is a volunteer firefighter, which he enjoys so much he wants to work with a fire or rescue squad while in college.

Walsh, a member of the Cape Coalition, was also a member of the Captain’s Club, a program that lasted but one year, bringing together sports team captains to deliver anti-alcohol and anti-drug messages to team members. He worked as a member of the Community Center planning committee, and swims and plays lacrosse.

Walsh was recruited by Wesleyan University to play lacrosse, and will attend next year, alongside his older brother, who will be a senior.

But what he calls “the most amazing” experience of his life has nothing to do with any of that. It was a trip he took in February to Korea with his younger brother Matt, adopted from Korea as a small child.

Matt, Mike, their father and their uncle went to Korea and traveled by train from Pusan to Seoul, crossing nearly all of the country. “It’s a totally different world,” Walsh said. He wants to go to China with his sister, adopted from that country.

In the meantime, he’ll spend the summer in Cape, working at the Shaw’s in Mill Creek and as a prep cook at Joe’s Boathouse. In his spare time this summer, Walsh will fight fires, play lacrosse in the men’s league at Portland’s Deering High School and fish.

After graduation, he and a couple of friends and their fathers will go on a father-son fly-fishing trip in northern Maine.

Memorial Day turnout larger than in past

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth’s Memorial Day celebration had a larger attendance than in previous years, due, some said, to an increase in patriotism since Sept. 11.

“We always have a good turnout,” said Town Manager Mike McGovern, who said this year “may have been the best.” He credited both the weather and increased national spirit for the uptick.

“I think it was a record,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jimmy Murray, who helped revitalize Cape’s Memorial Day observance starting 11 years ago. During the ceremony, Murray read a poem he wrote about appreciation for servicemen and women, and for public safety officials.

Many parade participants echoed those feelings.

“This is a big occasion for patriotism,” said Police Chief Neil Williams, who marched in the parade and stood with four members of his department as the color guard at the wreath-laying ceremony at the town’s memorial.

“Everybody’s far more patriotic,” said Dexter Hunneman, who drove half-tracks as a corporal in the 12th Armored Division in Europe during World War II. Hunneman laid the wreath at the town’s memorial as part of the services.

“I think we see more veterans of different services,” said Gerard Labarge, a former sergeant in the 8th Air Force. Labarge served six years, and his son recently completed duty with the Air Force as well, he said.

“People’s attitudes have changed,” said Jim Huebener, a former Marine captain who remembered a different time, when he returned from Vietnam.

“We all have a new sense of national purpose,” said U.S. Rep. Tom
Allen in remarks during the ceremony.

Spectators along the parade route and at the memorial service agreed.

“It’s a bigger focus on (patriotism) than in the past,” said Rich Maguire.

“I think people are more friendly,” said Pat Adler, who said she also sees
more people wearing American flags on their clothes, as she was.

Bill Belcher agreed. “People are much more appreciative of the armed forces,” he said.

And that is what Memorial Day is about, as listeners were reminded during the readings of the Gettysburg Address by Andy Hesslebart and of General Logan’s order establishing Memorial Day, read by Mary-Katherine Huebener.

Cape approves compromise budget

Published in the Current

Before a largely quiet audience of about 40 people, the Cape Elizabeth Town Council Tuesday approved a compromise budget worked out by the finance chairs of the council and the School Board.

The town’s tax rate will increase by 94 cents, to $22.64 per thousand dollars of assessed value, of which $16.65, or 74 percent, will go to the school budget. The remainder will be spent on town services, community services and county government.

The budget was described by Council Chairman Anne Swift-Kayatta as one that “meets the needs of Cape schoolchildren and at the same time is responsive to the financial needs of Cape Elizabeth taxpayers.”

Several councilors thanked School Board member Jim Rowe for his comments at the earlier May 13 public hearing, and for his work to bring the budget to a successful compromise.

They also thanked him for his service on the board. His three-year term will expire in June and he did not seek re-election.

Rowe spoke during the public comments session of Tuesday night’s meeting, saying “there is more at stake here than a few thousand dollars. A strong inter-board working relationship is also at stake here.”

He encouraged School Board members and Town Councilors to seek “a renewed spirit of collegiality, understanding and cooperation” in the face of the larger picture of state funding cuts. Rowe has repeatedly warned that the state will cut more money from its funding to Cape Elizabeth in coming years.

Resident Sally Cox spoke in opposition to increasing taxes, and challenged the council to eliminate tax increases next year.

Cox also suggested having a Finance Committee made up of different people than the Town Council. Cape’s present Finance Committee is made up entirely of Town Councilors, with a different chairperson.

Councilor and Finance Committee Chairman Jack Roberts presented the compromise he had reached with the School Board.

“To be able to meet all the needs identified by the town and the schools simply is not possible,” Roberts said.

The town will buy a new high school walk-in freezer out of surplus money from this year’s municipal budget, and will allow the schools to use $70,000 in its budget surplus to cover some expenses next year. The schools expect a savings of $33,000 in energy and telephone costs, and have made some additional cuts, in funding for field trips, maintenance, and athletics at the high school and middle school, as well as central office supply, materials and advertising expenses.

The budget was approved by a vote of 6-1 with Councilor John McGinty dissenting. McGinty said he did not expect any budgetary help from the state, especially with a new $180 million shortfall. “They’re gong to try to balance their budget on our backs,” he said.

He and others recommended the town and the schools spend money
conservatively, to increase flexibility in the event of future state funding cuts.

In other business, the council:
Tabled the elimination of the townwide spring cleanup, for a savings of $15,000, pending a fuller review of the town’s waste management operations.
Approved the budgets for the town’s special funds, including the Riverside Cemetery, Spurwink Church and Fort Williams Park funds.
Approved increases in a range of municipal fees, including permit charges, parking fines and rescue fees, which were increased to the level paid by Medicare for ambulance services.
Heard a presentation from the Cape Elizabeth Middle School Student Council and received three prints of a painting by Jamie Wyeth of firefighters raising an American flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center. One each of the signed prints will be displayed in the fire station, police station and town hall.
Heard from Chairman Swift-Kayatta that Portland Head Light has been designated a National Civil Engineering Historic Landmark.

Slam part 2: The end of the world as we knew it?

Published in the Portland Phoenix

Poetry fans, language mavens, and wordsmiths, lend me your ears. Poetry isn’t something to be read in silence in a rocking chair. It’s not even something to read aloud to a group of latte-sipping aesthetes. The end of that world is here. It’s Slammageddon 2, live at the Skinny, June 1.

If you’re picturing Maya Angelou reciting for Bill Clinton or Robert Frost leaning heavily on the podium at JFK’s inauguration, think again. As most people know by now, poetry slams are about more than just words, though those are certainly vital. Slamming is about stage presence, sense of moment, and just plain lunacy.

Slammageddon 2 will include not only local favorite Taylor Mali, but two other poets of note and notoriety in the poetry slam world. Also playing will be up to 12 local talents, as yet undiscovered.

Long-time Second Tuesday poetry performance organizer, Jay Davis, is putting together the second annual Slammageddon, which pits individual poets in competition with one another, a change from last year’s team invitational. It will be subject to National Poetry Slam rules, including the selection of judges from the audience, with only a few guidelines, Davis says.

Judges can’t be competitors, “or sleeping with a competitor. They can, however, be bribed,” suggesting that buying drinks is often an effective way to win a poetry slam. Too many drinks, Davis warns, could make judges violate their pledge to be present throughout the event.

The competition will be in rounds, with winners of each preliminary round of four poets going on to the finals. In between each round will be what Davis calls “feature poets,” or the big names to draw a crowd.

Mali hasn’t performed in Portland for several years, so his championship talent ought to be an attraction, and the other two are strong performers in their own rights. Regie Gibson will be the lead-off feature poet. He won the individual national championship in Austin, Texas, in 1998, and while his poetry starts as words, Davis says, “by the time he’s done he’s just making noises. I don’t know how you’d spell it.”

At that Texas championship, Davis says, Gibson had “2500 or 3000 people just going through the roof. He was making Jimi Hendrix noises with his mouth.”

Gibson himself is excited to be coming to Portland, and says Mali recently suggested he head north from his Boston base. Shortly thereafter, Davis was calling. “I’m feeling a certain vague sense of fate,” Gibson says. He is a bit more modest about his reputation as a stage performer, demurring gently to rumors of his excellence and crediting the energy of his audiences for his charisma in the limelight. “It sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun,” was the only glimpse he would give of his plans for the show.

The second feature will be Ken Cormier, with a mind Davis likens to David Byrne in two different ways. First, he calls him “an insane David Byrne,” but then revises that and proposes a world in which David Byrne is the equivalent of Frank Sinatra. Cormier, he says, would be the David Byrne of that world. Angelou and Frost fans, cover your ears.

Davis hopes the event will help make poetry an even bigger part of Portland’s cultural life. He has already convinced the Skinny to revise its standing-room-only policy to include a few tables and chairs for people to enjoy a more leisurely evening of poetry. But he expects the place to be packed and rocking from its 8 p.m. start until its midnight conclusion.

Another draw should be the big money given to winners. The top finisher will get $100, which is enough, Davis says, to get the attention of poets as far away as Boston. These “big city slam thugs,” as he calls them, may come up to compete, lending a sense of gravitas to the Skinny’s ambiance, and a real rivalry between Portland poets and those from away.

Davis issues a final challenge to local poetry favorites and Mali loyalists: “Regie Gibson may be better than Taylor Mali,” he says, his voice glittering at the prospect of seeing both on stage in the same venue.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Whale spotted off Prouts Neck

Published in the Current

A whale has been feeding off Prouts Neck for the past several days. Local residents alerted the Marine Animal Lifeline on May 17, when two humpback whales were spotted.

Since that day, only one has been seen at a time, though MAL President Greg Jakush said they might be taking turns feeding in an area right offshore of the yacht club.

Police said some residents are concerned that it might get stranded in shallow water, and Jakush said others are concerned “just about having a 40-foot whale that close.”

Jakush said he and others are monitoring the situation, but said the whale does not appear to be in trouble in any way. He said he does not know what it might be feeding on, but said birds are also fishing in the area.

“A lot of the locals are calling us every four or five hours,” Jakush said, keeping them posted on where the whale is. To allow the whale to swim without getting tangled in lines, “the lobstermen have pulled their buoys out of the way to help out,” he said.

He said whales feeding in close to shore may be more common than people realize, but they are not always spotted. Last year, Jakush said, there were whales in close to shore at Biddeford Pool.

Captain Mazzone leaves Scarborough after 20 years

Published in the Current

June 5 will be Captain Angelo Mazzone’s last day at the Scarborough Police Department. He’s done nearly every job at the department in his 20 years of service, from animal control officer to youth aid officer to detective sergeant and now captain.

Mazzone has never had a home in Scarborough, but he feels like he lives here. “Scarborough’s like a second home to me now,” he said.

A native of Portland, he is leaving to spend more time with his children, and will move to Cape Cod to be closer to his parents. “This is a family decision,” he said, making a point to say he has no problem with the department and remains on good terms with everyone there.

Chief Robert Moulton said the department will miss Mazzone.

“He’s been like a right arm to me,” Moulton said. “He’s an excellent police officer. I’m going to miss him a lot.”

Mazzone has seen Scarborough change, and the police department change along with it. When he started, there were only four patrol cars, and, he said, “it wasn’t uncommon to work a day shift alone.” Now there are often four patrol cars on the road on any given afternoon.

“There have been a lot of improvements,” he said, in radios and the station facilities.

He got his start in law enforcement as a young boy, when his father, a doctor in Portland, would get called on now and again to assist police.

When he graduated from high school, he joined the Army and became a military policeman. After three years in the service, he joined the Scarborough police.

Issues have also changed since then. Twenty years ago, the focus was on child abuse. Now more emphasis is placed on domestic violence, Mazzone said.

He spent a lot of time in the detective bureau, which is his first love, and for which his colleagues say he has a gift.

Detective Sgt. David Grover, who will become captain when Mazzone leaves and followed him heading the detectives, said Mazzone is a dedicated and committed investigator. “He goes home when the work is done,” Grover said.

Mazzone said he liked the work as a detective, and enjoyed helping victims of crimes. “I always looked at it as ‘what can I do for the victims,’” he said.

But he is also experienced at standard police work, and at handling hard situations, including the James Levier shooting and the Virginia Jackson murder.

“Every time something really big happens, I’m there,” Mazzone said, shaking his head at his “luck” and saying, “I’ve never missed a hurricane, never missed a blizzard.”

In the future, he said, the department will continue to grow to reflect the needs of the community. Technology, too, will play different roles. “Police work will always change,” he said.

With the area of the town and its growth, there is more pressure on patrol officers, he said. Many calls take more time now, with additional procedures and paperwork that he said help police do a better job – an hour or so for a domestic dispute, for example, rather than 10 or 15 minutes 20 years ago.

“I think we need to grow some more in the patrol area,” he said. He also expects the department will someday be allowed to conduct its own homicide investigations.

State law now prevents most towns from handling murder cases, instead passing them up to the state attorney general’s office.

He recently reaped one reward of his tenure at the department. He saw a marriage announcement saying that a person Mazzone knew as a victim of a crime several years ago had gotten his life back together.

“It kind of makes you feel happy,” he said.

There will be a small ceremony honoring Mazzone June 5, his last day, and a larger ceremony is planned for October, after the summer activity settles down, Moulton said.

Cape Elizabeth reaches accord on school budget

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth School Board members are breathing a little easier now that they have some financial help from the Town Council. The town has agreed to pay $25,000 from this year’s budget to replace the high school’s walk-in freezer, which has been deemed a safety hazard.

That takes pressure off the School Board, which had included that item in next year’s already tight budget. Several councilors had questioned the need for a new freezer.

But in a joint letter to the town and the public, the finance committee chairs of the two bodies laid out a plan by which the freezer will be replaced and
school spending will be capped at 4.5 percent, rather than 4 percent as previously requested by the council.

The total school expenditure for next year under the new plan will be $14,918,677. The tax increase for residents, covering both the school and municipal budgets, will be 94 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value.

The School Board’s original expenditures were to be $15,038,234, an increase of 5.34 percent. The council asked that amount be taken down to $14,846,677, an increase of 4 percent.

The board counter-proposed expenditures of $14,877,234 – a 4.2 percent increase, by making cuts in maintenance, field trip transportation expenses and the school’s portion of the freshman athletic program at the high school. A further $33,000 in savings was found in reductions of energy and telephone costs, without affecting school programs.

Some of the savings were also found by using $70,000 in surplus as additional revenue that would not impact the town’s tax rate.

The board feared it might be required to cut an additional $30,000 in spending, or perhaps even $100,000 if spending that surplus money was not approved by the council.

After the two finance chairs reviewed the budgets, they agreed that the board could use $70,000 in surplus money, and that the town would buy the freezer using money from the municipal general fund.

They also found $2,000 that the town had earmarked for the schools to support the computer network, which the School Board had not included as revenue.

After the $33,000 energy and phone savings, the board was left to cut $61,557, of which $58,000 had already been tentatively identified. At the School Board workshop meeting May 21, board Chairman George Entwistle said Superintendent Tom Forcella had been able to find $3,557 in additional cuts from the central office budget by reducing spending on custodial supplies, advertising, equipment, transportation and contracted services.

That left the board to review the $58,000 in cuts. The main issue the board discussed was how to restore some funding to freshman athletics.

The schools expected to pay $8,000 for coaches’ stipends. Briefly on the table were activity participation fees, discussed as a potentially better alternative than cutting programs, and the middle school’s outdoor education program trips to Kieve and Chewonki.

Entwistle also proposed expanding the degree to which parents pay for some of their children’s educational experiences, effectively moving some costs from taxpayers to the users of those services, he said.

“I suspect that we’re going to have to get more creative with that as we move through the next several years,” Entwistle said.

Board member Elaine Moloney pointed out that cutting freshman athletics funding put a greater burden on sports boosters at a time the School Board was trying to decrease the role of booster clubs in town.

In response to proposed reductions in funding for outdoor education, board member Jennifer DeSena defended the Kieve and Chewonki programs as important parts of the curriculum that the schools should fund more, not less.

The schools presently pay $2,500 in tuition costs for each program, with the remainder being picked up by parents of the students who go. They either pay from their own pockets or run fund-raisers to collect the money needed.

The board concluded its discussion by asking high school Principal Jeff Shedd, middle school Principal Nancy Hutton, Forcella and Athletic Administrator Keith Weatherbie to meet to find $8,000 in reductions, of which “the lion’s share” could come from freshman athletics, Entwistle said. The goal would be to restore some funding to that program and “share the pain,” he said.

The board agreed that the Kieve and Chewonki programs are exempted from that review and will not be cut. Entwistle also said he plans to write a letter to the Town Council expressing “something between acknowledgement and gratitude” for the council’s help in what he called “this difficult and challenging time.”

At the end of the meeting, Moloney encouraged members of the board to review the town’s budget. She admitted it was too late to do much this year, but said she would watch town spending carefully.

After looking through the proposed budget, she said, “I was really surprised by a lot of their line items. I can’t believe how much more we’re cutting and bleeding.”

The final amount of the school and municipal budgets will be set by the Town Council after a public hearing at 7:30 p.m., May 28, at the Town Council Chambers in Town Hall.

Fire Canteen founder looks back 50 years

Published in the Current

In the early 1950s, Eleanor Lorfano, now 85, got tired of driving her own truck to fires and serving her husband and his fellow firefighters coffee and
doughnuts out of the back of the pickup. She wasn’t tired of getting up in the middle of the night. Instead, Lorfano wanted some help and some company.

She got together members of the seven fire company auxiliaries in town and proposed setting up a canteen truck that could take food and drinks to the town’s firefighters if a blaze went on for a while.

The group, all women, found a used truck and quickly raised the $3,000 necessary to buy it. That truck went to its first fire on Ross Road with a card table in the back, Lorfano remembered at a meeting of the Scarborough Fire Department Canteen May 20 at the Dunstan fire station.

Some volunteers built cupboards and installed a stove, water tank and a big countertop into the truck, which saw many fires, including big fires in Saco
and the old dance hall on Gorham Road, Lorfano said.

During the war, Lorfano and several other women had been the fire department while the men were in the military. She was certified to drive fire trucks and even put out fires. After the men returned, she and others
maintained their involvement in the department through the canteen.

She remembered taking coffee to men fighting fires at the town dump, affectionately called “the Scarborough Town Park” in the canteen’s logbook. When rats would sometimes escape from the fire and run over near the canteen truck, Lorfano remembered men and women racing around trying to chase them away.

As learned from the logbook, long thought lost but recently located in a drawer in the canteen truck, the routine then was not much different from today’s canteen.

One difference: the truck – the third used by the group – is now maintained by the town rather than the canteen volunteers.

If a fire sounded big over the radio, canteen members would get up and start boiling water to put in Thermos bottles before going to the station to pick up the truck. Women who lived closest to the station, Lorfano said, would have the biggest Thermoses.

One night, Lorfano remembered, she was wakened by a call from a canteen member, in the days before pagers and radios sent out the signal “21” to summon the canteen truck. “She said, ‘You want to go to the fire?’and I said, ‘Yeah, what time’s the fire?’” Lorfano said. The reply came: “‘Right now, if you want to go.’”

Big calls now are rarer, canteen members said, because of better fireproofing in buildings. Smoke detectors and sprinklers are also more commonly used, making fires easier to catch and faster to fight. Shorter fires don’t require coffee and doughnuts the way long-haul battles against blazes do.

The canteen’s last call was at the Grand Avenue fire in Old Orchard Beach earlier this year, though it has served food in other towns at large fires, as well as at funerals for firefighters killed in the line of duty.

Lorfano was also a school bus driver in town for 25 years, starting in 1953. She was paid her “greatest honor” at that job, she said, when she was the only female bus driver; the boys’ basketball team asked her to be their driver, when there were several male drivers they could have chosen.

In that job, she had only one accident, sliding off the Black Point Road bridge with a busload of kids on board. Nobody was hurt, as the bus landed right-side up just next to the river, she said.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Cape Elizabeth teachers travel to learn

Published in the Current

Several Cape Elizabeth teachers, and one principal, will be taking short overseas trips over the summer or early next school year, to learn more about other cultures and educational systems. They expect it will benefit their students as well as their teaching.

High school world history and government teacher, Heather Sanborn, will depart first, leaving for China in early July for a 20-day trip through eight of that country’s major cities, including Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The trip is run by the Five College Center for East Asian Studies, in Northampton, Mass., and Sanborn and 19 other New England teachers will have much of their way paid by the Freeman Foundation. The rest of her costs will be paid by the high school and other funds, including possibly the high school parents association, she said.

The trip is the culmination of several workshops Sanborn has attended, learning about Asian culture and politics. “I’ve actually done some stuff, but now I actually get to go and experience it,” she said.

In addition to her trip, which will include sightseeing, visits to schools, lectures and discussions on a wide range of issues, Sanborn will get books and other curricular material to enhance her students’classroom learning.

Sanborn said the trip also will benefit her by broadening her own personal experience. She spent eight weeks in the former East Germany shortly after reunification, and uses that first-hand knowledge to help her students.

“Non-European travel is something that’s really important for me to bring to the classroom,” Sanborn said, pointing out that much of world history covers non-European regions, cultures and religions.

She plans to expand her own and her students’ appreciation of Chinese art and literature. “I hope to also bring back a better understanding of Chinese language and writing styles,” Sanborn said.

But, she emphasized, the true value of her trip remains unknown. “The key is what you actually experience,” Sanborn said.

Middle school Spanish teacher, Lydia Schildt, is taking a longer journey. She will attend the Spanish School at the Middlebury Language Schools in Vermont for six weeks this summer, and will spend the next academic year living and studying in Madrid, Spain.

Her experience with the language and cultures she teaches has so far been in Spanish-speaking South America, rather than Spain itself. So she now teaches Mexican songs, or Guatemalan rhymes, to her students.

She plans to return with a new library of cultural material to share with the middle school students.

She plans to live with a family for a part of her time in Spain, to learn more about the culture, and also is uncertain of the specifics of what she will learn. “When I get back, I’ll tell you,” Schildt said.

Middle School French teacher, Suzanne Janelle, and Pond Cove School Principal Tom Eismeier will be traveling to Japan on separate trips—Janelle in October and Eismeier in November—through the Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program.

Each trip will involve about 200 people, who will be broken up into groups of 20 to visit schools around the country, meet with government officials and learn about local schools.

Japan has a centrally administered national education system, Eismeier said, which is very different from the American system of local control.

After a week in Tokyo, they will head to different areas of the country and spend a couple of days with a family and visit schools, meeting with administrators and teachers.

“You get to know that school and that district for a while,” Eismeier said. The groups will then return to Tokyo and report back to the rest of the participants on what they saw and learned.

Eismeier will look at Japanese examples of studying teaching methods. Pond Cove teachers have been using an adapted version of Japanese techniques, including intensive review, teaching observation and revision. Eismeier wants to see firsthand how Japanese teachers undertake the process.

Some differences between U.S. and Japanese schools Eismeier will explore include the longer school year (nearly 300 days in Japan and 175 in Maine), larger classes (35-40 Japanese students, compared to around 20 in Cape), and the high social status of teachers in Japan, as compared with status in America.

He also will gather questions from students, parents and teachers in Cape Elizabeth, and try to get as many of them answered as he can during the trip.

Janelle will explore foreign language education. “I’m very interested in languages and how we teach languages,” she said. She plans to observe language classes and compare assessment and teaching methods with her own practices.

Japanese students begin learning foreign languages earlier than U.S. students typically do, Janelle said. But Janelle will start late, and will take a Japanese class at USM this summer to help her prepare for the trip.

“It’s really good for me as a language teacher to place myself in a student role,” she said.

When she comes back, she expects to help put together a middle school event focusing on Japan, as well as conferring with teaching colleagues about what she saw.

“The most exciting part of this program is that we’ll actually go to the schools and be in the classroom,” Janelle said.

Cape schools wait for word from council

Published in the Current

Cape schools may face a further $100,000 in cuts, including the loss of a fifth-grade teaching position and the volunteer coordinator position.

Or the situation may stay as it is, depending on the Town Council’s decision on the school budget.

The School Board has put its budget review on hold pending a reply from the Town Council addressing two issues: whether the $161,000 in cuts the board already has proposed will be enough to satisfy the council, and whether the board will be allowed to use $70,000 in surplus revenue as part of those cuts. The council had asked for $191,557 in cuts.

“The problem is that we have not had a response,” said School Board member and school Finance Committee Chairman Kevin Sweeney.

The board is hoping for an answer from the Town Council by May 21, when it will have a workshop session.

The council will vote on the budget May 28, following a public hearing.

If the council requires additional cuts, and denies the use of surplus revenue, the district could face a further $100,000 in budget reductions, including staff, who are contractually entitled to a 90-day notice of termination.

“Already on the block are programs, staff and more contributions from parents. That’s just the beginning,” said board Chairman George Entwistle.

And despite the councilors’ admissions that their role is not to decide on specific line items in the school budget, Entwistle said, “they actually do have in mind very specific items.”

The high school freezer has been one item of concern, with councilors debating the board’s contention that it needs to be replaced.

Sweeney inspected the freezer and found that its leak poses an imminent safety risk and needs to be remedied immediately. School officials may use a rubber mat like those around the town pool to prevent people from slipping on the water on the floor.

Sweeney proposed one way to handle the budget crisis. “The fiscal year is not over. The books are not closed,” he said. He noted that the surplus is just a projected figure at present.

“What if we decide that surplus is not going to exist at the end of this year?” he asked, proposing that the schools spend all available money.

Business manager Pauline Aportria explained that those projections help next year’s budget, rather than hurting it, and that spending the surplus would make things worse, not better.

Superintendent Tom Forcella has already frozen large expenditures this year, hoping to expand the surplus going forward.

“We’re already not getting things we’d anticipated getting this year, ” said board member Jennifer DeSena.

The board’s regular monthly meeting followed the Finance Committee meeting. At the regular session, the board approved new athletic policies tougher on drug and alcohol use, and increased restrictions on fund-raising by boosters.

In other business, the board:
– Commended Stephanie Reed and Daniel Gayer for their performance on the U.S. Physics Olympics exam, as two of 188 finalists nationwide.
– Heard a report from Pond Cove School principal-for-the-day, Jonathan Bass, a fourth-grader, about his experiences as principal, visiting classes and making rules such as increased recess and permission for students to chew bubble gum.
– Heard a report from high school Principal Jeff Shedd that incoming high school freshmen will have a day of orientation at the school in the fall, rather than the traditional spring “step-up day.” Shedd also reported on senior prank day, which included a release of mice in the cafeteria and the installation of a radio transmitter inside the public address system.
– Approved a Fulbright Teacher Exchange for next year, in which high school English teacher Hannah Jones will teach in a school in Ayrshire, Scotland, and a teacher from that school will come to Cape Elizabeth.
– Approved continuing contracts for all eligible teachers; approved second year probationary contracts for all eligible teachers except Sarah Gridley, who is resigning at the end of the year; approved an unpaid leave of absence and a third-grade job-sharing program; and hired a new guidance counselor for Pond Cove School.
– Commended several high school economics students for their efforts to raise money for Camp Sunshine, a camp on Sebago Lake for families of children with serious diseases.
– Heard a report from high school Spanish teacher Mark Pendarvis and two of his students about their trip to Costa Rica.
– Heard a report from high school economics teacher Ted Jordan about the trip he and his class took to the New York Stock Exchange.

Boxer connects on camera

Published in the Current

Like many teenagers, Cape Elizabeth native Elisa Boxer once vowed never again to live in the town she grew up in. But now the Channel 8 news anchor
and her husband are building a house in the Cross Hill development and plan to stay.

Being near home, she said, took a little bit of adjustment.

“At first it was really bizarre,” Boxer said. “Now there’s nothing that appeals to me more.”

A 1989 CEHS graduate, Boxer went to Bowdoin College and then worked in newspapers in Massachusetts before going to Columbia University for graduate study in journalism.

She made the jump to video and documentary journalism and promptly won a student Emmy award for work documenting the lives of Bosnian refugees\ living in New York City.

“I like connecting with people,” Boxer said.

Television, she said, allows her to combine writing and pictures in a way that tells a story effectively. “I like putting all the elements together,” Boxer said.

But it’s reporting that really excites her.

“I really like pounding the pavement,” Boxer said.

She is particularly interested in the ways people respond to suffering. Some people, she said, are able to turn suffering into efforts to benefit others.

“People do it every day,” Boxer said.

One woman she met had lost her husband and a son within two weeks of each other. That woman was able to create a gathering place for people to grieve together and begin healing after the death of loved ones.

Boxer’s awards have been for her stories along those lines, including a recent Emmy for a piece on victims of abuse at Baxter School for the Deaf and two Edward R. Murrow awards for writing about a Holocaust survivor.

She credits the people in her stories more than herself, and says of the awards, “it’s because they told it to me.”

At WTMW for just over four years, Boxer is an anchor as well as a reporter. The two are different, she said, but she still tries to connect with her audience, rather than talking to cameras.

“I feel like these are people watching me,” Boxer said, gesturing to the studio’s cameras.

And sometimes they are indeed watching her. She talks to her parents, who still live in Cape Elizabeth, after every newscast. Now and again, Boxer runs into people she went to high school with. The irony, she said, is that when they find out what she does for a living, they have one response: “But you were always so shy!”

Cape’s Bill Bruns left legacy of caring

Published in the Current

Bill Bruns, 63, died suddenly at his Scarborough home earlier this month, but the spirit and energy of the 30-year Cape teacher and USM professor live on in town and throughout the area.

“He was just a dear, sweet individual,” said his wife, Mary, who\ works for the Cape school district. “Losing him is like losing a part of myself.”

The couple met at USM in Gorham in their first year of college, when both were studying to become teachers. They dated throughout college and married after graduation, 41 years ago.

When they first finished school, Bill taught in Portland and Mary in Westbrook. After a year, he took a job in Cape and she took some time off to raise the couple’s daughters.

Bill was a eucharistic minister at St. Bartholomew’s Church and a member of the Knights of Columbus, as well as being a math teacher.

After the kids finished school, Bill and Mary moved to Windham, to a home on Pettengill Pond. “Bill always wanted to live on the water,” Mary said. In
1992, Bill retired with 30 years in the Cape schools, but continued teaching, increasing the load he taught part time at USM.

In 1998 the couple moved to Scarborough, and family was nearby. One of his daughters lives in Windham, and Bill had sisters in Gorham and Portland.

“He was always a family person,” Mary said. But he had a lot of friends, too. Mary estimates she has received over 200 cards since Bill’s death on May 2, including one day when she got 50 cards.

Among those friends are former students and colleagues, including Cape Police Chief Neil Williams.

“Bill was just a great teacher,” Williams said. “He would take the time (to help) when you were struggling.”

Williams remembered his former math teacher as even-tempered and kind. “He really knew how to get the best out of kids,” Williams said, admitting that while he wasn’t the best math student, Bill “made it interesting for me.”

Williams also remembered a man with a great sense of humor, which he directed at himself and at others. It was how Bill handled difficult kids. “I just had total respect for the gentleman,” Williams said. “He enjoyed teaching as much as the kids liked having him.”

John Casey was a former student of Bill’s, and is now the assistant principal at the middle school in Cape.

“He always started class with a joke,” Casey remembered. “He taught with a lot of energy,” Casey said, remembering that Bill was always willing to work a problem again, to make sure everyone understood the concepts involved.

Casey has taken some of his own teaching methods from Bill, as well. Though Casey doesn’t always wear a tie like Bill used to, Casey does try to connect with students on a personal level and be aware of what’s going on for them outside of school.

Ralph Bolduc worked alongside Bill for many years at Cape and at USM. He said USM faculty and students are still shocked and saddened at Bill’s death, and called him “irreplaceable.”

“Bill was always the person who volunteered to help someone in trouble,” Bolduc said. “He was an excellent math teacher and a wonderful friend.”

Casey pointed to Bill’s choice of retirement jobs as a testament to his dedication to teaching and learning.

“(Bill) retired after 30 years and he still teaches. That ought to say something,” Casey said.

Cape residents blast council on school cuts

Published in the Current

Over 40 residents turned out to give the Cape Town Council a piece of their minds this week about school funding cutbacks, blasting the group for approving expensive town buildings while cutting education funds. Two students were among the speakers.

Twenty-six of them spoke during public comments on the budget, including six School Board members and Superintendent Tom Forcella. All but two
defended the original school budget request, an increase of 5.34 percent, or a total of $15,038,234.

The council had requested the schools limit spending increases to 4 percent, asking for a total of $14,846,677. The School Board has responded with a revision, increasing spending 4.2 percent or $14,877,234.

Major issues at the council’s regular meeting held May 13 included budget priorities in town.

Superintendent Forcella and School Board Chairman George Entwistle also took issue with a numbers breakdown found in unsigned fliers distributed at the meeting.

Forcella presented a different picture of the budget, saying it is not the largest increase since 1995, but in fact the smallest increase in three or four years. He said the flier’s figures on average class size at the high school were wrong, and pointed out that high school teacher loads were increasing next year. Entwistle echoed those concerns, calling the numbers “misrepresented.”

“Putting together a budget in an uncertain economic climate is no fun,” said Jack Roberts, Town Council Finance Committee chair. The council also made an unpopular municipal cut, proposing the elimination of the town wide spring cleanup.

Several residents wondered what would be different next year, if anything, for the council, and whether the schools could expect more money or less in the future. Others said schools were important investments even in hard economic times, and recommended spending the money the schools requested.

Resident Frank Potenzo expressed concern that increasing taxes would drive senior citizens out of town. “I would think that the town would like to keep the retired people in their homes,” he said, arguing that seniors pay property taxes like everyone else, but don’t ask for many services.

Bonnie Steinroeder said disputes between town and school governing bodies were not helpful. “We are one community,” she said, adding that it is unproductive to set up budget disputes between “seniors in homes versus kids in schools.”

Gail Atkins spoke, criticizing recent town building projects to loud applause. “I think the money needs to go to the schools,” Atkins said.

School Board member Elaine Moloney said many of the town’s attractive features come at a price, including wetlands protection, little business, greenspace and new town buildings. “Is it to be at the expense of our schools?” Moloney asked.

Tyke MacColl, a student, complained that freshman athletics were being cut, and placed the $8,000 budget for them in contrast with the money for the “pile of rocks” outside the new police station. “Freshman sports are a lot more important,” MacColl said.

Student Grace McKenzie said she thought the police station was too big for a town that normally has two police officers on duty at any given time. “I don’t think we need that much,” she said.

Erin Grady Gallant said schools are why people move to Cape. “The schools are our most important resource besides our land and our children,” she said.

School Board member Jim Rowe had voted against the 5.34 percent budget to protest the state education funding formula, but now argued in support of the 4.2 percent revision.

“We will not be as good a school system under this budget as we are today,” he said, warning that “the state may not in fact be done with its rape of the Cape Elizabeth school system.”

Resident Ed McAleney spoke against cutting freshman sports. “If we cut programs for our children, then maybe we’ll have a real use for the police station for a change,” he said to laughter and applause. “We cannot turn our backs on our children because my parents never turned their backs on me,” he said.

Trish Brigham said she thought the original budget proposal cut too much, and said education spending is not a cost, but an “investment.”

“We’re investing in the quality of life that we have as a community, ” Brigham said.

Chris Kast said he is sad about the cuts and their impact on kids’ lives. “The investment we make in our school system and in our children is invaluable because it protects a precious asset,” he said.

Ed MacColl said many parents in Cape stress to their children how important education is. He said cutting the school budget in this way would send the wrong message to them, and tell them “bricks and mortar that look nice are more important than kids.”

Jim Barritt said he wanted school officials up late at night worrying about education, not money. Looking directly at a group of school staff in the audience, he said, “I think you guys should have every penny you think you need.”

Barritt also proposed a citizens’ committee be assembled to review the town and school finances, performing cost-benefit analyses and other studies to help town officials better understand what they were getting for their money.

School Board Chairman Entwistle said the council needs to regain the trust of the School Board. “It’s time to do what’s right,” he said. “And spending money on education, in my opinion, is always right.”

School Board Finance Committee Chairman Kevin Sweeney made the last comment of the public session, saying, “we can do no better at this point.” He said the community is a whole. “We will be judged by how we treat our youngest and our oldest, and keep in mind that we owe them both a fair shake,” Sweeney said.

Town Council Chairman Anne Swift-Kayatta had opened the comments session with a hope that cuts be made that not affect students. She ended the comments session by saying “this is a room full of people who support the schools,” but that the council has to “balance competing priorities” and decide how much of a spending increase to allow the schools in a year when enrollment is flat.

She said that the role of the School Board is to advocate for the schools, while the Town Council, she said, must look out for all citizens.

In other business, the council:
– Heard from Councilor Henry Berry that veterans may be eligible for low-cost prescriptions through the Veterans Administration.
– Approved a change to the town’s zoning ordinance intended to allow the Inn By The Sea to use parking at St. Bartholomew’s Church for special events.
– Decided to resurface the existing route of Fowler Road and use state money originally intended for widening and improving Fowler Road to continue repaving Route 77 near the Scarborough line.
– Authorized the town manager to apply for a sewer connection permit for 1226 Shore Road, the former community center, with the understanding that the new property owner would pay for the actual sewer connection.
– Doubled the rent of the Cape Courier’s office in Town Hall to $100 per month.
– Authorized a study of parking fees at Fort Williams. The study will be finished by Sept. 1, 2002.

The Town Council will hold a public hearing on all town and school budget issues at 7:30 p.m., May 28, in the Town Council chambers in Town Hall.

Thursday, May 9, 2002

Cape schools cut another $161,000

Published in the Current

The Cape School Board has cut an additional $161,000 from the 2002-2003 school budget, and will ask the Town Council to forgo an additional $30,557 in cuts it had originally requested.

The new cuts include $8,000 in district funding for freshman athletics; $10,000 in transportation costs for field trips; $40,000 in maintenance by not filling an open maintenance position and cutting back on some projects; and a $70,000 reduction in the budget surplus.

A further $27,000 will be saved by having lower fuel costs than originally
projected, and the district may also see $6,000 in savings with a new phone system.

The board will keep $70,000 in discretionary reserves it can spend without consulting the council. The amount had concerned several councilors when the board presented the budget.

Boosters fund most of the cost of freshman athletics now, said Superintendent Tom Forcella, and will have to bear all the cost next year or those programs will be reduced. The cut in funding for field trips means parents will be asked to pay a dollar or two more.

“Instead of $4 to see a play it might be $5 or $6,” Forcella said.

The cuts take the budget increase to 4.2 percent, 0.2 percent higher than the council had requested, but it is “the exact amount our budget is increasing for existing salary and benefits,” Forcella said.

An increase of $124,000 in special education costs, as well as other new expenses, will be funded by cutting other areas of the budget, Forcella said.

Kevin Sweeney, chair of the School Board’s Finance Committee, and School Board Chairman George Entwistle will write to the Town ouncil requesting it consider this proposal and approve an amount slightly larger than the council had originally recommended.

Sweeney is uncertain of the possible outcome. “I’m not going to speculate on the council,” he said.

He expressed concern about the availability of sports to high school freshman, who are too old for Little League or Casco Bay Hockey, but are now too young to participate in school-sponsored athletics.

Sweeney is not optimistic going forward. “I don’t think it looks any better next year,” he said. He said he expects cuts in the future to be like the cuts this year, small in size and affecting a wide range of school functions.

Town Council Finance Committee Chair Jack Roberts said he was “disappointed” to hear that the schools wanted additional money. He said he was aware the council would be receiving a letter from the School Board, but said he had neither received the letter nor spoken to any of his fellow councilors about their reaction.

The total expenditure in the budget is officially still $15,038,234 until the Town Council takes action, according to school Business Manager Pauline Aportria, but the proposed cuts would take the amount down to $14,947,234.

To cover the school’s original request would mean an increase of 91 cents per thousand on the tax rate. With the additional cuts requested by the council, it would be 86 cents.

At the budget meeting between the council and the School Board April 29, Roberts had pointed out the overall tax rate increase was projected to be 94 cents, and asked councilors if they wanted to permit an additional five cents for school funding, which would still keep the increase under $1 per thousand. Roberts found no takers then.

Grilling their way to the top

Published in the Current

The Cape Elizabeth Barbecue Team is in what one captain calls “a rebuilding year.” Started last year by two seniors, the torch of leadership has now passed to three senior captains, and the brother of one of the team’s founders.

The team performed well at the Special Olympics track meet, held at CEHS May 3, grilling up hot dogs and hamburgers for hungry fans and athletes. It was the first foray into spring sports for the team. “So far it’s only been a fall sport,” said captain Kevin Scesa, describing outstanding performances on the sidelines of Cape football games.

“It’s our first barbecue in a while. We’re a little rusty,” said Brett Cary, brother of team founder Chris, as he warmed up the grill for the event.

In an adventurous foray, the team not only heated meat products over three charcoal grills, but branched out. “We’ve never toasted buns before,” Cary said. It wasn’t a big success, with the first few bread products blackening in the heat.

The team is still forming itself, with mostly seniors on the team now. “We need some more underclassmen to step up,” Scesa said.

With more participation, he said, he expects the team to do well, including offering refreshment at lacrosse games this spring.

The team is itching for a real challenge, Scesa said. “We haven’t gotten to a competition,” he said, and he doesn’t have one on the calendar yet.

The team is attracting more than just customers. They got $250 in donations from Hannaford, as well as some help from Sam’s Club, to provide food at the Special Olympics. The money they make by selling dogs and burgers for a dollar or two goes right back into the team’s operating budget, which so far only provides for meat, cheese and charcoal.

They don’t even have uniforms, but prefer to spend their cash on steak and chicken when they can, but “no marshmallows,” the team choruses.

Leadership and advancement are all real possibilities for the team, and first-time customer Travis Wigham had but one thing to say about his barbecued hot dog: “It’s awesome.”

What parents can do to stop teen drinking

Published in the Current

A group of about 30 students and parents came together Tuesday night to discuss the role parents play in enabling underage drinking, and to hear firsthand the warnings of a Cape father who lost his son to drunk driving.

They left the meeting, sponsored by the Cape Coalition, with a new respect for their instincts and a few ideas for making a teen center happen in Cape.

John Brady, father of Kevin Brady, a CEHS student who died in a drunk-driving accident nearly two years ago, spoke near the end of the meeting. “It’s been almost two years, but it could be last night,” he said, his voice breaking in the silence of the Town Council Chambers.

He related his last conversation with his son, in which, he said, he just felt something wasn’t right, but didn’t say anything.

“His last words to me were, ‘Don’t worry, dad. I won’t do anything foolish. I love you,’” Brady said. “And then we got the phone call.”

His son’s car had gone off Old Ocean House Road. Police said Kevin had a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit for people over 21, and was driving too fast.

Kevin died, and the passenger in the car was injured.

Brady advised parents to pay attention to their gut instincts about their kids’activities. “Follow your intuition,” he said. “If it doesn’t seem right, it’s not.”

A panel of students and adults addressed issues of teen drinking and parental involvement, as well as ways parents and the community can provide other
activities for teens who say there is “nothing to do” in Cape Elizabeth.

Alex Weaver, a junior at CEHS and student co-chair of the Cape Coalition, said it is not enough for parents to stay at the opposite end of the house when their children’s friends are visiting. And some parents do more to help their kids drink than to stop them. “It even goes so far as the parents supplying the alcohol to the teens to have the party in their house,” Weaver said.

Parent Bob Flynn exhorted parents to be less indifferent. “We’ve got to be a little more responsible. We’ve got to get more involved,” he said.

Some of the problem, he said, may be because parents are too nice.

“Do you want to be a parent or do you want to be a friend to your kid?” Flynn asked. “They want you to be their parent.”

The problem is not going away, Flynn said. “Kids are drinking in Cape Elizabeth in seventh grade. It’s not just high school kids.”

Norm Boucher of Day One told the group that for every underage drinker there are 15 to 25 people around that person who make it possible for the person to drink, from teachers and coaches who look the other way to friends who do homework for their drunk friends. “Parents are the chief enablers,” Boucher said.

Panelists said there were two major misconceptions about drinking in Cape. “It’s not an issue of peer pressure,” Flynn said. “There are a lot of kids who choose not to drink,” Weaver said.

Students and parents alike credited their open relationships as decreasing the likelihood of teen drinking.

Frank, a graduate of a residential substance abuse program sponsored by Day One, said he did not have a good relationship with his parents until they noticed he had a problem with drugs and alcohol.

Cape Elizabeth Community Policing Officer Paul Gaspar explained some aspects of the legality of drinking, including the fact that homeowners are liable for events at a party and for people who leave a party drunk, whether or not the homeowners were in fact present. Liability, Gaspar said, can be as much as $250,000.

Parents, the panel said, need to mean what they say in terms of disciplining children. But parents in the audience were uncertain about what to tell their kids about calling for a ride home.

“You’re one of the enablers if you’re driving that person home,” Boucher said. But other parents wondered if they weren’t just trying to keep their kids safe.

They agreed they needed to be more in touch with each other, to call and check whether what their kids said was happening, was in fact taking place.

CEHS junior Derek Roy said his mother had gotten calls from other parents making sure kids were meeting at Roy’s home after the prom. Roy’s mother said no such event was taking place and it was news to Derek.

Parents also agreed that if they were at an event and taking their child out of the situation, they would also look out for their kids’ friends and fellow students.

“We need to value all the youth of the community, not just ‘my kid,’” said Terry Johnson, adult co-chair of the coalition.

CEHS senior Cara Jordan said she knew of five parties that would happen over the weekend. Flynn pointed out it was only Tuesday night, and already several parties were being planned.

The alcohol policy for school activities came under fire from one parent, who was unclear how it should be enforced, and whether it was enforced uniformly. The School Board will discuss a revised alcohol policy at its May 14 meeting.

Liz Weaver, mother of Alex, told of a story she had heard from former high school Principal Pete Dawson about another school where he worked.

Word got around the community that there was going to be a big party on the weekend. Parents asked him what he was going to do about it. He replied that he had done what he was supposed to do: He had told his daughter she couldn’t go. Dawson, Weaver said, suggested all the parents do the same.

Jordan said the town could use a teen center where alcohol-free activities could happen, but said the funds had been cut from the community center renovation budget. “We need a teen center,” Jordan said, saying she felt kids were not a priority in town.

Flynn said he would arrange a meeting with leaders of the local Rotary Club to try to get funds to build a teen space in the new community center.

The turnout was less than organizers had expected, and one mother of middle school students said, “I would have liked to see more parents here.”

Several area teens, including some from Cape Elizabeth, will be on TV Sunday night, on Channel 13 at 8 p.m., discussing parental roles in underage drinking.

Thursday, May 2, 2002

More cuts coming for Cape schools

Published in the Current

The Cape Town Council has asked the schools to cut an additional $191,557 from the 2002-2003 budget, leading School Board Chairman George Entwistle to predict staff cuts.

“We would begin to let people go,” Entwistle told the council April 29.

The Town Council, meeting as the Finance Committee, recommended in a 6-1 vote that the school district be allowed an increase of only 4 percent, less than the School Board’s requested 5.43 percent increase. (Councilor Henry Berry was the single no vote.) Councilor John McGinty, who first brought up the 4 percent figure, said when asked that it was an “arbitrary” figure.

Councilors admit the resulting tax increase is the main issue.

“I’m concerned that we not get our taxes so high,” said Councilor Carol Fritz.

The school portion of the property tax increase would have been 93 cents per thousand under the School Board’s proposal. The 4 percent cap means the schools will be 67 cents in an overall increase of 94 cents, or $188 for the owner of a $200,000 home.

“We are also pricing young families right out of this town,” said Town Council Chairman Anne Swift-Kayatta. “This is all about balancing competing needs.”

But she expressed reservations about making deep cuts, saying that a budget increase in a time of flat enrollment can provide opportunity for improvements.

“What we’re doing is gutting the future of the school system,” Swift-Kayatta said.

School Board members stressed that the budget is not actually being increased. Salary and benefits costs are rising 4.2 percent, said Superintendent Tom Forcella. Add in legally mandated special education requirements, he said, and the rest of the budget must go down.

The morning after the four-hour meeting, Forcella, after little sleep, was still surprised. “I expected the Town Council to decrease our budget but not to the extent that they did,” he said. “I didn’t expect anything near $191,000.”

He said program and staff cuts are definitely under discussion, though he said no decisions had been made. He said providing tax relief can be done two ways: increasing revenue or cutting costs. But the schools have limited revenue options, he said.

“The only way to do anything about our budget is to cut expenses,” Forcella said.

The 4 percent budget increase is more than the council had originally indicated it would allow the schools. In a letter March 1, Finance Committee chair and Councilor Jack Roberts had requested the schools, as well as other municipal departments, keep spending hikes to 3 percent.

Town Manager Mike McGovern said a major concern for the council was a projected $600,000 decrease in state funds for the town’s schools.

The final amount of the decrease turned out to be $445,714 – funding which now must be picked up on the tax rate.

“It’s the largest loss we’ve ever experienced,” said Councilor Mary Ann Lynch, adding that this is the largest requested increase in the school budget since 1995.

“I think that might have influenced some of the councilors,” McGovern said.

Councilors said they had made additional cuts in the municipal budget, which is projected to grow by 2.42 percent, to be able to provide more funds to the schools.

School Finance Committee Chairman Kevin Sweeney and School Board Chairman Entwistle made the case for the district’s budget, focusing on contractually obligated salary and benefits increases, increased need for special education services, enrollment pressure on class sizes and the need for a new bus.

Building maintenance and planning for the high school renovation and an addition to Pond Cove School also figure into the budget increase.

About $27,000 in savings is already projected, due to lower-than-expected heating oil costs. A new telephone system may add $6,000 in additional savings, according to school Business Manager Pauline Aportria.

Councilors looked carefully at this year’s $225,000 budget surplus, which would normally be carried over for next year.

That money could be used to pay for unexpected costs, such as an out-of-district placement of a student with special needs, Sweeney said.

Special Education Director Claire LaBrie said the cost for a single out-of-district placement could be between $50,000 and $220,000, depending on the student’s needs and transportation requirements.

Spending that surplus money, while it is included in the budget, would require Town Council approval. An additional $70,000 is designated as “reserve” in the budget, for spending by the School Board without council review, to handle smaller contingencies.

Sweeney said accountants recommend a 2 percent surplus in the budget. Entwistle said the surplus is already below that level and should not be eliminated.

“We are merely following appropriate and recommended accounting principles,” Entwistle said. He warned that without a surplus, any new expenses would require council approval.

“You are tying the hands of the board,” Entwistle said.

Board members reminded councilors that the Town Council’s role is to approve a budget amount, not specific lines in the budget. But Entwistle, frustrated at the size of the cuts, did attempt to get councilors to say what they wanted cut.

Councilor Fritz was disappointed in the rejection of activities or user fees, she said, adding that she wanted to see cuts in administrative or other areas. “I’d like to see it not affecting actual classrooms and kids,” she said.

Fritz also asked if there were any state mandates that could be cut, to protest the state funding cuts.

“There is nothing that we’re being mandated to do that isn’t the right thing to do,” Entwistle said.

Referring to a proposal at the high school that would hire two educational technicians to supervise study halls, giving teachers more time for collaboration, Councilor Lynch said, “this is not the year to eliminate the high school teachers proctoring the study hall.”

“I think there are some savings in there. I just don’t know where,” Councilor Penny Carson said.

School Board member Susan Steinman warned that things cut this year would be back next year. She said she is worried about losing ground this year that would then have to be made up in the future.

“I picture this year as treading water,” Steinman said. “I don’t want to cut it out now and have to beg for it next year.”

School Board member Jennifer DeSena suggested the town make more increases to municipal fees, to give more money to the schools.

Councilor McGinty was for that, and Carson said that if the county budget were lower, “that would definitely go to the schools.”

Councilor Roberts asked if there was any move to raise the total tax increase – municipal plus school spending — back from 94 cents to 99, to provide more funds to the schools, but found no takers. The council had originally set a goal of raising the rate less than a dollar this year.

But the School Board was not happy. “I just feel like there’s not a lot of trust. I’m disappointed,” said board member Elaine Moloney, adding that the council often seems to cut 2 percent off whatever amount the School Board comes up with.

“No one enjoys where we are tonight,” Lynch said, as the four-hour meeting came to a close.

The public will have a chance to comment May 13 as part of the regular Town Council meeting, which will be in the Town Council Chambers at 7:30 p.m. The budget will be formally approved in a special council meeting May 28, also in the Council Chambers at 7:30 p.m.

In other business, the Finance Committee recommended a 2.42 percent spending increase in the municipal budget, by a vote of 6 to 1, with Councilor McGinty opposed.

It also recommended that the county budget not be approved, by a vote of 7-0. Town Manager McGovern said the town is legally obligated to pay the county assessment, which is rising 21.4 percent, or $134,950.