Thursday, October 31, 2002

Cape appeals to parents, tightens rules, to stop teen drinking

Published in the Current

In a letter to parents of Cape Elizabeth High School students, Principal Jeff Shedd laid out new procedures for chaperoning dances and challenged parents to help reduce student drinking outside of school functions. He also attacked the current athletic contract on abstaining from substance abuse as ineffective.

One student was suspended after the recent homecoming dance because the student was drunk at the dance and got sick. Shedd’s letter, which went out on Oct. 16, said he had heard of other students who might have been drinking or drunk at the dance, some of whom may have gotten sick in the girls’ bathroom.

The “narrow school problem” of drinking at or before dances, Shedd said, will be solved with additional chaperones, increasing numbers but also broadening the range of adults who will supervise dances.

Previously, dances had to have six chaperones, all staff members at the school, one of whom had to be the faculty advisor of the class sponsoring the dance.

Now, there will be nearly triple that number, with six CEHS staff, six parents, one administrator and the sponsoring class’s faculty advisor, for a total of 14. In addition, there will be one coach from each sport in season, as well as a police officer.

In addition, existing rules preventing students from bringing bags and bottles into the dance and prohibiting students from leaving the dance and then returning will continue to be enforced, Shedd said.

The additional supervision will make it easier for adults to enforce these, he said.

Shedd’s letter went on to say, “these measures will do nothing, however, to address the community-wide issue of teenage substance abuse and drinking at events outside of school.”

Shedd encouraged parents to work together to send consistent messages to children in the community, and asked parents to include in their in-home discipline a requirement that students who are caught drinking report themselves to school authorities, as required in the school’s athletic contract.

He said the “act of signing an athletic contract is an excusable lie they are forced to tell as the price for participating in school athletics.” If parents don’t enforce the athletic contract, they are making things worse, the letter said.

The School Board last year changed the athletic contract to make it more pointed and to encourage parents to act responsibly when their kids violate the provisions, which include forswearing drugs and alcohol on penalty of suspension from a game or sports season.

“It’s still not enough,” Shedd told the Current.

A recent meeting of the High School Parents Association had an extended discussion on the subject of teen drinking, Shedd said.

Beth Currier, vice president of the HSPA, said the meeting was the group’s normal monthly meeting and had been scheduled to include a question and-answer session with Shedd and assistant principal Mark Tinkham even before Shedd’s letter went home to parents.

But as a result of the letter, Currier said, “we had a much better than average turnout,” around 30 parents rather than the usual 10.

Currier said parents appreciated the letter. “It was really helpful to have an issue like that addressed with the facts,” she said. She was glad the school was communicating directly with parents on the issue.

The parents who were at the meeting, mostly with children in their freshman and sophomore years, were interested in dealing with the problem, and agreed that school dances were but a small part of the problem.

“We can make the dances chem-free,” Currier said. “The hard issue that we need to talk about and change is really the community climate culture change.”

She said a sports booster group had met the night before and discussed whether the athletic contract works, and why it applies to just athletes.

Currier said the parents agreed they could meet and discuss the issue of teen drinking for many hours, but decided to also address other questions about the high school and have another similar session at the next parents association meeting, Dec. 4.

Currier said if there was still interest in dealing with the subject, the association would look at scheduling a special meeting on the issue.

She said in the past she has noticed that people get concerned about teen drinking when something happens, but when nothing has happened for a while, “it disappears quickly” from discussion topics.

“It is hard to make real changes,” she said.

But she said there is concern about weekend parties, as well as school parties, and was looking forward to seeing how the next discussion went.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Cape Girl Scouts welcome a Kenyan friend

Published in the Current and the American Journal

“Hujambo Esther,” said the sign welcoming Esther Ndungwa Musau to the house in Cape Elizabeth where 10 of her pen pals were gathering for a meeting and a meal.

Inside, Musau was the center of a pod of girls moving from room to room throughout the house. “These girls are good,” said the soft-spoken, 19-year-old from Mbooli, near Machakos, southeast of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

The girls had spent a lot of time with Musau, who is living with a number of families during her three-week stay.

Troop member Bridget Carver said the group had begun writing to Musau after starting a sponsorship through Save the Children. The troop sends roughly $300 a year to fund Musau’s education.

Over the course of the correspondence, which has lasted four years now, Musau wrote to the girls about problems with her eyes.

The girls, who originally wanted to go to Kenya to meet their pen pal, decided it would be cheaper and easier to bring her to the U.S. Another benefit, they thought, would be the opportunity for Musau to get medical care for her eyes and also visit a dentist.

“We used all our cookie money and magazine money,” said Paige St. Germaine.

They raised about $2,000, including a donation from the Rotary Club of
South Portland and Cape Elizabeth. The flight cost $1,700, the girls said.

They remembered sitting in the cold outside Sam’s Club selling cookies to raise money, and taking notes of various excuses people gave for not buying any cookies. The troop will host a spaghetti dinner Nov. 1 to replenish the troop’s supply of funds.

Musau hadn’t heard from the girls in a while, because she graduated from school several months ago. But when her former teachers told her the girls wanted to pay her way to the U.S., she was surprised.

“I couldn’t believe it at first,” she said. But she learned that the Scouts were serious, and decided to put her faith in her pen friends. It was her first time in an airplane, and she was very excited about seeing the U.S.

“At the same time I was nervous,” she said. She had never actually met any of the girls and didn’t know what they or their families would be like in person.

“I said, ‘God is there,’” she said, and took the leap of faith. She knew that they were good people, and she figured that if they were willing to bring her to their homes, they would treat her well when she arrived.

She had known the girls for a while in their letters, starting when they were in first grade. “They were just teaching themselves how to write,” Musau said, remembering with a smile the letters she got on large-rule paper, in little-kid handwriting.

The Scouts also got Dr. Jeff Berman, a Cape resident who works at the Maine Eye Center in Portland, to donate eye care. Musau had chronic conjunctivitis that caused some scraping of her cornea.

Berman gave her some eye drops that should take care of the problem. Her dental care was donated by Dr. Leonard Brennan of Portland.

All of the girls said they would like to visit Musau in Kenya at some point down the road. Scout Meredith Sills was proud of the group’s achievement.

“We brought our pen pal here,” she said.

History lost in now stalled project

Published in the Current and the American Journal

Nearly complete on the outside, but utterly abandoned, a new version of an historic house sits on Shore Road behind orange fencing and signs warning against trespassing. Its view is a commanding one of the ocean, but from the road it looks lost and alone.

Work has stopped on the house, after nearly a year of demolition and reconstruction, because the owners are taking care of family business out of state, according to project architect and builder Marcel Nadeau of Anastos and Nadeau of Yarmouth.

Nadeau said the owners, Darrell and Patricia Mayeux of South Portland, did not tell him if or when work would resume, and added that he thought they might try to sell the home.

The house was not a John Calvin Stevens house, as some in town had thought, but was designed by another prominent Portland-area architect in
the late 1890s and early 1900s, and was almost entirely original as recently as 1998.

The house, at 878 Shore Road, was designed by Austin W. Pease and built by Mrs. George F. Thurston sometime before 1910, according to Earle G. Shettleworth Jr., director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. In 1910, a pen sketch of the ocean side of the house was published in the journal of the Portland Board of Trade, Shettleworth said.

Pease also designed a house, at 20 Summit Road, which made it onto an expanded list of historic structures that failed to gain Town Council approval in December 2001. At that time, the council also did away with an existing list of structures subject to a 45-day waiting period before any demolition could occur.

The Mayeux house was not on either of those lists, but still interested Shettleworth.

Photos taken when the house was on the market in 1998, Shettleworth said, indicate that it was “largely unaltered” over the past 100 years, both inside and out. He said that before renovations and remodeling began, “the present owners had an early 20th century shingle-style summer cottage.”

The past year’s work, he said, was best described as “extensive modeling and enlargement.”

“What they did was to radically alter the appearance of the house,” Shettleworth said. Some of the features have been preserved, he said, while others are no longer there.

Two bay windows next to the main entrance are still in the remodeled house, but the “eyebrow dormer” window originally on the third floor was removed to make way for an expanded gambrel, which is both taller and includes more windows than the Pease version, Shettleworth said.

He said the interior photos from 1998 indicate the inside was probably very close to the original as well, and he does not know what has happened to the inside during renovations.

The garage and octagonal turret were added recently, he said, and were not part of the Pease design.

Shettleworth said this type of project worries him. “Those of us concerned about historic preservation in Maine discourage owners from doing this
level of alteration” to largely intact buildings of that age, he said. Even if the new home looks like the old one, there are small changes that make it less than it was. “It’s not the original house,” he said.

Project architect Nadeau said he did not know that the house had any historic value.

The owners did not return multiple phone calls from the Current.

Teens talk to legislators about drugs

Published in the Current and the American Journal

Seven students from Cape Elizabeth High School participated in a videoconference with the Maine Legislative Youth Advisory Council Oct. 18 to give legislators some insight on why kids use drugs and alcohol.

Students from Belfast Area High School also participated in the event, which used Cape’s videoconferencing link from the old lecture hall room.

Also participating were members of the public, who used the opportunity to address legislators in Augusta. Sen. Lynn Bromley and Rep. Janet McLaughlin were on hand in Cape for the discussion as well.

Adam Welch, a senior at Belfast, said he had recently stopped drinking because he found it affected his studies, but said easy access to alcohol makes it hard for young people to resist.

“The solution here is that you have to relate to (young people) on some level,” Welch told the group.

Kate Perkins, who does social work in western and midcoast Maine, said parents model bad behavior, by drinking and driving themselves – even with the kids in the car. Other problems, she said, include alcohol advertising and uneven enforcement of drinking laws.

“You can’t expect the schools to do it all,” Perkins said.

A teacher from the Belfast school asked the students at her location and in Cape what relationships they found most influential in their decisions about drug and alcohol use. A student at Belfast said friendships were most influential, especially those in middle school and elementary school, when kids are defining themselves. By high school age, he said, many kids are set in their ways and are hard to influence.

Sarah Groff, a junior at CEHS, talked about a class she is taking called “health forum,” with Andrea Cayer. The class, she said, has discussed mental illness, suicide prevention, drug and alcohol use and other topics. She said Cayer began the class by saying, “You can’t teach students not to drink. You can make them aware and see the consequences.”

Groff said students do need to be made more aware, and that statistics aren’t enough. Personal stories from fellow students are influential, she said.

She mentioned Cape Life, a new program begun by Cape teacher and coach Andy Strout, to provide alternative social activities for teenagers, as one possible way to handle the issue.

Scott Caras, also a Cape junior, said his classmates and friends are part of his decision-making process. “By far the most important relationship is with your friends and with your peers that you look up to,” Caras said.

He said it is important for young people to see their role models making good choices, something that is not always the case now.

Caras also said sports teams can play a strong role in keeping kids from drinking, but can also have the opposite effect.

“It’s hard when a couple of kids (on a team) choose not to use drugs and alcohol,” he said.

Caras said the coach’s role in decision-making should not be underestimated.

“The coach can tip the balance of kids on the fence,” he said, by recognizing efforts not to drink or do drugs.

Enforcement is difficult, Caras said, because so much of it depends on students themselves turning in their friends. If the students on a team don’t take the no-alcohol contract seriously, there will be no enforcement. Again, he said, the coach can make a difference there, but without student support, he said, a contract won’t be enforced.

The Maine Legislative Youth Advisory Council, a permanent committee of the Legislature, is working on ways to prevent substance abuse in young people throughout the state, and used the comments from the videoconference as part of their research.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Web site filches Cape man’s furniture designs

Published in the Current

Douglas Green of Cape Elizabeth is learning the value of the Internet to his business, reaching customers nationwide. Unfortunately, he is also learning how others can hurt his business by using technology.

Green operates Green Design Furniture, with a store in Portland. Last Friday, one of his customers alerted him that a furniture-sales web site targeted at high-end computer users was purportedly selling Green’s own furniture.

When Green looked at the web site,, he was very surprised.

“The site had pulled images and copy from our catalog,” Green said.

Further, the site was advertising retail prices that were “basically double”
Green’s own prices, and then offering a discount from those inflated prices.

Green had never heard of the site, and nobody had contacted him to ask permission. Green and his employees are the only people authorized to sell his furniture.

Green called the site’s owner, Jack Campbell, of Hendersonville, Tenn., to complain. Green was furious at what he saw as infringement of his intellectual property rights. He gave Campbell an hour to remove the photos and text from the site, and told Campbell his lawyer would also call to make the point.

“It was beyond what I could comprehend,” Green said.

Campbell defended his action, saying he was setting up a trial run of a web-based business marketing “expensive, nice designer wares” to users of Macintosh computers. He is a marketing consultant and technology writer known in the Macintosh user community.

His demographic studies indicate, he said, that Macintosh owners are a good market for high-end goods.

He approached a number of vendors for possible materials. One person, he said, claimed that Green’s furniture was really his own. This person, Campbell said, sent over photos and descriptions, as well as pricing information to be used on Campbell’s web site. These were the materials Green said were his own.

The site opened Oct. 17. The following day, he heard from Green, and the material was off his web site less than 30 hours after it was posted.

“I tried to apologize to Douglas (Green),” Campbell said, but Green was upset and wouldn’t let him say much, Campbell said.

After the call, Campbell checked into all of his other prospective vendors, and he said they checked out as credible sellers of their products.

Green said he takes infringements seriously. “This is what I’ve spent the last 10 years on,” he said. “We have to be really rigorous in defending my ideas. What I own are my designs.”

Blanche turns 101

Published in the Current

Smiling broadly after a serious game of Beano at the First Congregational Church on Black Point Road, Blanche Cook was treated to a birthday lunch Oct. 17, her 101st birthday.

“This is the best day ever,” she exclaimed to a group of assembled friends. “It seems as though I’ve had birthdays forever.”

Her secret is food. “I just eat. I’ve got a good appetite,” Cook said before sitting down to a cup of soup, a sandwich and birthday cake.

She grew up in North Pownal and then moved to South Portland and later Scarborough, said her daughter Lorraine Libby. For many years Cook hand-dipped chocolate for the Libby Candy Company. Her husband died in 1978.

She said she has had a good life and has seen a lot. “Everything has been invented since I was born,” Cook said.

She walks a mile in the Maine Mall each morning and plays Beano often. The week before her birthday, she won several games. Her friends didn’t let the birthday girl win on her special day, though they did surprise her with the party.

Cook, a spry woman who moves as if she were far younger, still travels alone. She will shortly go to Florida to visit her brothers, who are 95 and 98 years old.

“We’re all a hardy bunch,” Cook said with a laugh.

Cape board worried about non-graduates

Published in the Current

At a School Board workshop Tuesday, concerns were high about state-mandated local assessment standards for high school graduation, which will be developed by the end of this school year and will be applied to this year’s eighth-graders before they can get high school diplomas.

“We can tell already that we’re not going to be there” without additional help, said Superintendent Tom Forcella. “Otherwise we’re going to have a significant number of kids not graduating,” said high school Principal Jeff Shedd.

Students who do not have high school diplomas are allowed to enroll in school until July 1 of the year in which they turn 20, according to state law.

Board member Kevin Sweeney said that could prove costly. “We could potentially be looking at having them in school full time for (an additional) one, two or three years,” Sweeney said.

The board discussed with Shedd the study skills class offered to non-special education students. Shedd said the class serves 13 students, whom he described as “high-risk non-special ed students.” The class teaches them organizational skills to help them perform better in class.

School Board Chairwoman Marie Prager said she felt as if there were three large groups in the school, the average students, special ed students and the ones in between, which she called “marginal.” Serving the needs of the three groups, she said, puts a large strain on the school department’s resources.

“We’re building three schools within our one school,” Prager said. “That’s what I think is scary in terms of dollars.”

Board member Kevin Sweeney said there was a broader spectrum than just those three groups, including honors and advanced placement students, as well as special education students with very large needs (such as one-on-one assistance), and special education students with fewer needs.

Claire LaBrie, director of special education, said students in special education often take college placement and honors classes in some disciplines while needing assistance with other subjects.

Middle school Principal Nancy Hutton said the schools will need to change some of their efforts to reach all students, using more people, equipment and time. “There’s going to be a price to pay for all of that,” she said.

“We’re going to do the best we can for all the kids,” Hutton said, not just “most of them.”

Forcella said the schools had to be careful not to create “a new special ed for non-special ed students.”

Shedd agreed that there were ways to be cost-effective, but said, “a part of the solution is inevitably going to take time, and time costs money.”

Little damage in Black Point Inn fire

Published in the Current

A small fire started in a light fixture in a corner of the laundry at the Black Point Inn, sending guests out the door and firefighters racing down to Prouts Neck just after 6 p.m. Tuesday evening.

The historic inn, which had a new sprinkler and alarm system installed throughout the building during a renovation four years ago, had about 45 guests, as well as 65 staff members, all of whom had to be evacuated, according to Scarborough Fire Chief Michael Thurlow.

Firefighters hooked up their hoses to feed the inn’s sprinkler system, which took care of most of the fire. Fire crews took care of the rest quickly.

Firefighters spent several hours on the scene after the fire was out, cleaning out burned areas to make sure the fire was completely extinguished, and clearing smoke from the building.

“It’s a big building and it takes a while to get the smoke out,” Thurlow said.

Guests and staff were kept out of the inn’s main building for a while, but were able to keep warm in some of the inn’s cottages and outbuildings, according to innkeeper Dick Schwalbenberg.

No one was in the laundry at the time of the fire, and no one was hurt in the evacuation or in fighting the fire. Damage to the building was not extensive, and Schwalbenberg said he expected the laundry to be back in service by the end of the day Wednesday.

The small size of the fire was a relief to Schwalbenberg and Thurlow.

“It’s the kind of building you worry about,” Thurlow said, referring to the
inn’s wood-frame structure.

Local students above state MEA averages

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

Local students beat state averages on the Maine Educational Assessment tests, but still many are not meeting the standards set by the state.

The scores, released last week, have changed little from last year’s results. Since then, student scores in grades four, eight and 11 have held steady, landing predominantly in the “partially meets” standard in each of the
seven testing areas: reading, writing, math, science, social studies, health, and visual and performing arts.

Locally, Cape Elizabeth 11th-grade students led the way in every area of testing, with Scarborough and South Portland landing within just a few points, in most areas.

Students in all three communities scored at or above the state averages in every category except math, in which South Portland was one point off the state average.

One statewide trend shows that the gender gap in math and science has disappeared, with girls scoring just as well as boys.

However, boys have not caught up with girls in reading and writing, traditional strong areas for the girls.

“Clearly, we need more students to begin to show progress from ‘does not meet’ to partial mastery, and from ‘partially meets’ to meeting the standards,” said J. Duke Albanese, Maine’s commissioner of education.

The stronger than average showing in Cape Elizabeth did not surprise Superintendent Tom Forcella.

“As a whole, they were what we expected,” Forcella said.

The teaching staff in each Cape school will look at how students did in individual areas of each test, to pinpoint where students need to bone up.

Forcella said overall scores can disguise specific subtopics that either need work, or in which students already excel.

Forcella stressed that the long-term view of MEA scores is the important aspect of the test, allowing school officials to see how students do over the years. Further, he said, the MEAs are only part of a larger local assessment system now being worked on extensively in the district. “I think we’re using the results well,” Forcella said.

He expects to have a framework for a K-12 assessment system in place by the end of this year, as well as the specifics of a high school local assessment program, as required by state law.

In Scarborough, scores held steady within one or two points of the scores from last year.

Scarborough students are consistently meeting the standards in reading and writing and are also steadily climbing towards meeting the standards in social studies. However, in the last two years, students in Scarborough have only partially met the standards in math and science.

Fourth-graders did better in the five basic content areas last year than this year, while the eighth-graders did better this year. The 11th-graders also did
somewhat better last year.

Monique Culbertson, Scarborough’s director of curriculum and assessment, said that it is statistically impossible to match up reading scores with math scores because the standards are very different in each content area. What she likes to do instead is to conduct an individualized item analysis of each content area, looking at the questions that were asked and how the students responded.

“We are better able to look for trends and possible gaps in instruction by conducting such a detailed analysis,” Culbertson said. “We really are trying to stay away from the comparison that our students did better in reading than in math.”

Culbertson also said that it is sometimes difficult to know whether the fourth-graders, for instance, truly did do better on the test in previous years because of what they have been taught or whether fluctuations like that are based more on the individual class profile.

She said Scarborough schools are currently working on a comprehensive assessment model that should give the district a better understanding of the system’s strengths and weaknesses instead of relying solely on the MEA test scores.

Culbertson also said the MEA test scores are just a snapshot of where students are as a group and does not necessarily reflect individual achievement and learning.

Wendy Houlihan, assistant superintendent of South Portland schools, said that when the Learning Results standards were incorporated into the revised MEA test, they were intentionally set high.

The consistent scores of Maine students over the past three years could indicate that the test standards are not appropriate to the actual curriculum for students, Houlihan said. If this were the case, she said, it still wouldn’t pose a real problem.

“With these high standards, partially meeting the goal is pretty good,” Houlihan said.

Unlike states such as Massachusetts, which demand minimum scores in order for students to graduate, Maine does not place this emphasis on the MEA results.

“If this was something that could hurt a student’s future, then we might want to think about looking at the standards again,” Houlihan said. “But the MEA tests are just one of the tools we use to provide an assessment of student learning, and it doesn’t hurt us to keep that target high.”

At the same time, Houlihan thinks that Maine students could improve their scores and meet the higher demands of Learning Results.

“We always want the students to be improving from year to year,” Houlihan said.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Substance-free program targets student athletes

Published in the Current

Over 30 high school freshmen athletes will see the benefit of funding from the Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation and other local organizations this year, in the form of a new program designed to make it “cool” to not use alcohol and drugs in Cape Elizabeth.

That’s in contrast to the present situation, according to organizer Andy Strout.

Strout, a physical education teacher at the middle school and a coach of the boys varsity soccer and tennis teams, said the social climate at the high school has a simple summary: “It’s cool to drink.” He said there are students who would prefer not to drink, but have no non-alcoholic alternatives in town. “Right now, you don’t have a choice,” he said.

Cape Athletics for a Positive Environment and Lifestyle, “Cape Life” for short, is his plan. He wants to make it acceptable for kids not to drink, by providing a range of activities and learning sessions for students who pledge to remain substance-free for the year.

The sessions will be led by a professional facilitator, Michael Brennan, who leads similar groups at Deering High School and actively involves the students in learning and experiencing important lessons on topics important for student athletes, Strout said.

Brennan will host workshops on leadership, role modeling, positive self-talk, visualization and nutrition for athletes. Strout said they will be active and fun activities, “not like class.” Brennan’s stipend will be paid by the Education Foundation’s $1,500 grant, enabling the program to begin without needing to raise significant initial funding, Strout said.

A parallel set of fun activities will be scheduled throughout the year, he said, including outings to local athletic events, pizza parties at the Community Center and other activities designed to bring students together to have fun in a safe, substance-free way.

There has been a good reception from new freshmen, Strout said. “There are some that can’t wait.” He also has a number of juniors and seniors, who will be participating as leaders in the group.

This is the latest in a series of efforts in Cape to provide alternative recreation for teens. Two years ago, Strout and other coaches had what was called the Captain’s Club, in which they met with all the captains of the athletic teams and encouraged them to use their leadership role to discourage drinking.

It wasn’t very successful, for one reason: “We were targeting the wrong people,” he said.

The captains had already made their social choices, and as seniors already had a pattern of behavior that was hard to change. Cape Life targets freshmen, before they set up their patterns of social behavior in high school.

The Cape Community Coalition also focuses on the issues of teen drinking and drug abuse, and will be involved in the Cape Life effort as well, Strout said.

Cape Life will extend to coaches as well as players, he said, to try to create a more positive atmosphere for student-athletes who make good choices.

After failed efforts to get a special segment of the town Community Center set aside for teens, in which Strout played a strong role, he has decided they can make do with what the center already has: a pool table, a foosball table and ping-pong. He said those activities on their own are a big draw for teens, and plans to use them as added attractions for Cape Life activities.

Money from the Soccer Boosters has already come in to assist with pizza and other activities, and Strout is hoping for additional funds from other booster groups throughout the year.

He will spend more effort looking for funds in January, when he begins a sabbatical.

He will be researching leadership issues in student athletics, including coaching, captaincy and peer interactions.

He expects to have time to meet with a number of groups around the area to solicit additional support, as well as spend time incorporating some of what he learns into the Cape Life program.

And though the ultimate success of the program depends on the level of involvement from students, Strout is optimistic. “I’m really excited,” he said.

On Active Duty: Pfc. Justin Wesley

Published in the Current

Private First Class Justin Wesley is serving in the U.S. Army in Korea as a rocket launch specialist. A recent graduate of Cape Elizabeth High School, Wesley studied engineering at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania for two years before enlisting in the Army, originally with the intent of studying foreign languages, according to his parents, Maurice and Sylvia Wesley.

In January, 2001, he signed up with the Army and went to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and then advanced infantry training at Fort Sill, Okla., where he decided to enter the artillery, despite having aptitude test scores good enough to get into the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif.

After Fort Sill, Wesley went to Korea, where he has been since. Life has changed since Sept. 11, his parents said. Where previously soldiers were out in the field for three or four days at a time and then back at their bases for a week or more, now they are out in tents for 10 or more days at a stretch, followed by less time at the base before more field time.

That field time can be very difficult, his parents said, because of the cold weather in Korea. “They had snow before we did,” Sylvia said.

She said his letters home indicate that he’s not entirely happy with what he’s doing, but is growing up and having opportunities he might not otherwise have.

“The military takes you places you never would get to go,” Maurice said. It also leads to experience and leadership opportunities that can help open doors after the military, he said. Maurice said he hopes his son will decide to pursue higher education again when he returns.

Wesley is nearing the end of his tour and will shortly be on his way back home on leave. He will stop in San Francisco to visit his sister, and then will stop at Lehigh to see friends before coming back to Cape Elizabeth for a visit before heading back to Fort Sill for his next assignment.

He has three more years to go and may change his specialty and stay in, but his parents aren’t sure what will happen. They look forward to seeing him soon, as well as the deluge of friends that come over anytime he is home.

Plenty of oil but price uncertain

Published in the Current

Local oil dealers say fear about a war with Iraq may drive oil prices up a bit in the short term, but there is plenty of oil to go around and prices will stabilize.

Jeff Quirk of Quirk Oil Company in Scarborough said prices may be going up slightly right now, but are generally stable.

Last year, people thought oil prices would climb after Sept. 11, but they did not. Quirk expects similar psychological factors this year to contribute to oil price uncertainty.

Kevin Frederick of Frederick Brothers Oil in Scarborough said, “nobody knows for certain what it’s going to do.”

He said military action in Iraq could cause prices to rise initially, but that would be because of public concern and not any real issue with the oil supply.

Those price hikes may be artificial to some degree, reflecting refineries’ desire to make a profit from public concern rather than decreased oil supply, dealers said.

Buyers may not have a wide range of prices to choose from.

“Most all of us buy from the same supplier or suppliers,” Quirk said.

Local dealers don’t hike their prices “unless they have to,” Frederick said. And when they do raise prices, they don’t always pass on the full increase to customers.

Small dealers, he said, will often handle a five-cent supplier-price increase by raising their own prices two or three cents and absorbing the rest as a reduction in profit.

Bill Fielding Jr. of Fielding’s Oil Company in Scarborough said his customers are also worried, and prices have climbed slowly for the past two months. He has had some calls from people who want to pre-buy oil to lock in a price, even if they might not normally do so.

Fielding cautioned that those people are taking a risk: If oil prices go down, they might have spent more money than they would need to.

Michael Constantine of Champion Fuel Company in Cape Elizabeth said his customers are worried about what war might mean for oil prices, but there is plenty of oil in reserve. Homeowners may have a lot of oil already in their
tanks, because of warm temperatures last year, while oil companies have thousands of gallons in their tanks already because they sold so little oil last winter.

“I don’t see that there’s going to be a problem for anybody,” Constantine said.

Woman dies in motorcycle accident

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

Elaine Mitchell, 41, of Scarborough was laid to rest Tuesday morning after being killed in a motorcycle accident on Pleasant Hill Road on Friday, Oct. 11.

She was a passenger on a motorcycle driven by her longtime companion, James Goode, 45, of Scarborough when the vehicle collided with a deer at
5:48 p.m. Both were treated at the scene and taken to Maine Medical Center, where Mitchell was later pronounced dead.

Goode was treated for what Scarborough police called “non-life-threatening injuries.”

Neither were wearing helmets, according to Sgt. Greg Bedor. He said about half of the people he sees on motorcycles are wearing helmets. The rest, he said, “take their chances.”

Mitchell leaves behind a daughter, Brianna, a junior at Scarborough High School, and a large family of brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. She was remembered Tuesday for having a great love of life, including spending time with her daughter and traveling to the Caribbean.

Mitchell’s death was called “a sad and dreadful nightmare” by Father James Morrison, who officiated at the funeral held at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Scarborough. “Though we might want to, we cannot turn the clock back,” he added.

Father Morrison also had special words for Brianna, who was accompanied to the service by friends and teachers. He told her to think long and hard about the one thing of her mother’s she might want to keep - something that would stay with her always. “Try to hold on to that one thing that says who your mother was,” Father Morrison said.

He also urged Mitchell’s family not to think about the “what if.”

“You are all wondering why did this happen and could it have been prevented? Was there anything that could have been done at the scene afterward that would have saved Elaine’s life? And the answer is ‘no.’ Everyone did the best that they could,” Father Morrison said.

Father Morrison also told Mitchell’s family, friends, and coworkers that no one has the answers, but they could offer each other a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on and words of gentle mercy and hope. “Soon the joy and the laughter will come back and the stories and memories you have of Elaine will have warmth and meaning again,” he said.

For the past five years, Mitchell, who was born in Van Buren, held the position of Human Resources Manager at Nordx Laboratories.

Those wishing to honor Mitchell’s memory are asked to make donations in her name to the Scarborough Rescue, c/o Anthony Attardo at 246 U.S. Route 1, Scarborough or to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center, 22 Bramhall Street, Portland.

One of the “Band of Brothers”

Published in the Current

Walking into Lester Hashey’s home, it’s clear he is a veteran proud of his service. The former paratrooper has a small parachuting figure hanging
high in a living room window. A poster with the names of the 51 men of his outfit who were killed in action hangs in the corner, a litany of small-print names impossible to ignore.

And upstairs, his beloved pool table is covered in piles of photos from the war and unit reunions since. On the walls are mementos, including his Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, unit patches and his paratrooper’s wings.

But not until the time comes to leave the Scarborough home of this energetic 77-year-old does his role in history become clear. To the right of the front door hangs a 16-by-20-inch print of a drawing of a church in the Dutch town of Eindhoven, a town liberated by Hashey and his fellow soldiers in 1944.

Though the church was destroyed, a modern Dutch artist drew it in honor of the liberation.

Printed at the bottom of the display are five simple words: “Thank you for our freedom.”

Hashey has had a lot of recognition, especially in the last 10 years or so, as a former member of Easy Company, Second Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.

He and 37 others are the only surviving members of a group that has become famous in the Emmy-winning HBO special “Band of Brothers,” inspired by the Stephen Ambrose book of the same name.

Hashey remembers the day the group liberated the town, having parachuted in the night before, as part of Operation Market Garden, to secure the town. The soldiers were, he said, “looking for German snipers” while being greeted by thousands of people in the streets, who lifted the Americans on their shoulders to celebrate their freedom.

That day, Hashey signed a school notebook belonging to a 16-year-old Dutch girl named Lise. “Everybody wanted your autograph,” he said.

Many years later, at the 2000 dedication of the D-Day Museum in New Orleans, he saw Lise again, and she was carrying her notebook.

“She came all the way from Holland to thank me for her freedom,” Hashey said.

A boy’s dream
When Hashey was 15, he went to see a double-feature at a Portland movie theater, and saw a short newsreel about an elite group of infantry, whose soldiers were trained paratroopers as well as excellent skiers.

Right then, he decided that was what he wanted to do. Two years later, in 1942, he dropped out of Portland High School to become a shipbuilder in the Liberty shipyards in South Portland. Soon after, he was drafted into the Army.

He volunteered for airborne duty and was part of the 93rd class of paratroopers. “It was tough,” he said, but rewarding, “to be a paratrooper at a time when nobody had ever been up in a plane.” Paratroopers never had it easy. If they went up in a plane, it was for a jump. “It wasn’t until 1950 – the Berlin airlift – that I ever landed in a plane,” Hashey said.

He joined Easy Company after half the unit’s members were killed during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. They jumped into Holland on Sept. 17 of that year, as part of Operation Market Garden, designed to open a route from Eindhoven north to Arnhem. Expecting to be on the ground for a week, they ended up there for nearly three months.

The original intent of the mission was to take a bridge and hold it until the tanks arrived. Resistance was tough, and on a planned rest away from the front, Hashey and his fellow soldiers found themselves in the middle of one of the key battles of the war.

“We weren’t sure what country we were in,” Hashey said. They had little ammunition, having left the front lines. But they soon found out both where they were and what kind of firepower they would need: The Germans broke through Allied lines on both sides of the town of Bastogne, Belgium, surrounding Hashey and his comrades.

The men formed a circle, with the artillery in the center, and fought off repeated German attacks for 10 days before they were able to reconnect with Allied forces.

Hashey remembers how close the battles were. Had the Germans attacked from more than one point simultaneously, he said, the artillery would have been too weak to repel the attacks, and “they would have had us all for prisoners of war.”

After the soldiers broke the siege, they went immediately on the offensive, fighting their way up the road to the town of Foy, where Hashey was wounded in action and evacuated for treatment.

He returned to Belgium in 1994 for the 50th anniversary of D-Day and went on a short drive to Foy. He saw the ridge he once climbed, but because they were all foot soldiers, “there’s no evidence that we were ever there,” he said.

The welcome he got, though, was evidence enough. In addition to the medal from the Queen of the Netherlands, there was an amazing parade. “Three hundred thousand people came to watch us walk through a town,” Hashey said, beaming.

The road to stardom
Such attention wasn’t what he expected. After the war, he became a swimming instructor and sports director, working at military bases all over Europe and in Asia. He even taught West Point cadets and Special Forces troops how to swim and fight in the water.

When he retired from the service in 1963, he got a job with the American Red Cross, teaching swimming around the country. He retired recently from his job as director of water safety and first aid in Portland, but still teaches CPR a couple of days a week, which he has done since CPR was developed in 1971.

For his dedication, he was made a commodore in the Commodore Longfellow Society, named after the founder of the American Red Cross swimming and lifeguarding program, in what he said was one of the proudest moments of his life. Next week he will present the first Lester A. Hashey Award for Teaching Excellence to a Portland-area Red Cross teacher.

Hashey never thought his experience on the ground in Europe in 1944 would end up as a big story. But World War II historian Stephen Ambrose changed that. Ambrose, who died at age 66 earlier this week, “was a great guy,” Hashey said.

Ambrose spent hours and hours interviewing each of the men in Hashey’s unit in a hotel room during the reunion, and wrote a book, “Band of Brothers.” Actor and director Tom Hanks took the book and made a docudrama miniseries for HBO about the men of Easy Company, including Hashey.

The story has attracted attention from all over the world. The unit just had a reunion, which was attended by over 300 people, more than triple the largest reunion attendance before. He and his buddies sat at a long table and in two and a half hours, Hashey estimates, signed over 1,000 copies of Ambrose’s book.

Hashey is clearly proud of his accomplishments and said that being a paratrooper is one of the things he is most proud of, along with being a commodore. He met a goal he had when he was young, and it gave him the confidence to “do anything” with his life, despite difficult beginnings.

“Back in the Depression days things were tough. When I quit school, nobody told me that was a stupid thing to do,” Hashey said.

Even that has now been remedied. A couple of weeks ago, Portland High School granted him a diploma, under a program that allows veterans who dropped out to be awarded diplomas now.

What he did instead of high school may make for better storytelling, though. Looking at a photo from the war, he remembers every detail. He and a buddy were spending the night in the top of a windmill near the Rhine River and could smell someone cooking beef nearby. He convinced his friend to come downstairs with him to get some food.

Just when they reached the bottom of the stairs, two shells hit the windmill. When they returned to their sleeping site, Hashey’s sleeping bag had large holes in it, and his pack was destroyed. “My toothpaste was blown up,” Hashey said.

That 1944 photo reminds him that every moment is lucky. “I almost got killed in this windmill,” he said. “If we had been one minute later. . . ”

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Parents worried about laptop insurance

Published in the Current and the American Journal

To a soundtrack of “If I Had A Million Dollars” by the Barenaked Ladies, Cape parents walked into the middle school cafetorium on three different occasions earlier this month to get their first real look at the seventh-grade laptop program.

While most of the parents were impressed, significant concerns remain, though not in the educational aspects of the computers. Rather, parents are worried about increased liability if their children take the laptops home and
damage them. The laptops are worth up to $1,300, with the monitor screen alone costing $1,000 to replace.

The meetings, required by the state before a school district can send laptops home with students, were well attended, according to middle school Principal Nancy Hutton. Cape was one of the first towns in the state to get the laptops to the students earlier this school year, and is one of the first to have parent meetings as well, Hutton said.

Yellow Light Breen, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Education, said a form of self-insurance is in place for the laptops. Apple Computer has supplied the state with a number of spare laptops that can be used to replace
damaged machines.

Breen said school districts should contact their own insurance carriers to discuss the cost of insuring the laptops locally.

He said other locations distributing laptops have used an insurance policy costing about $50 per machine. It is presently available to school districts in
Maine, Breen said, but is not mandatory. The policy, offered by a company called Safeware, The Insurance Agency, out of Columbus, Ohio, does not cover intentional damage and is presently available either individually or as a district-wide group policy.

The sales manager at Safeware, Brian Haase, said the group policy costs $49.50 per machine, while purchasing insurance individually could cost twice as much. “The best rates are under our group program,” which Haase said has a minimum group size of 10 participants.

Insurance is of particular concern to parents as the schools look at sending the laptops home with students as early as the end of this month.

“The School Board supports getting these home as quickly as possible,” said Technology Coordinator Gary Lanoie, but is concerned about the schools’ potential liability if some computers are broken or damaged.

Some of Cape’s machines have already been dropped and damaged during in-school use, Lanoie said, blaming some of the incidents on the cases used to carry and store the computers.

They have several fastening devices that must all be secured, and the computers could be even more protected, Lanoie said, by installing adhesive Velcro straps to the computer and the inside of the carrying case. At present, that is forbidden by the state’s policy of not allowing any stickers to be applied to the machines.

Use at home
Internet use during school is monitored by teachers and filtered through the school’s Internet connection. At home, however, those restrictions loosen. Hutton and Lanoie all made it clear that students are expected to use their laptops in public areas of their homes, and not lock themselves away from family members while typing.

Parents are entitled to know their children’s passwords and are allowed to supervise any activity their kids undertake on the laptops. Lanoie said students should not be allowed to install games on the laptops, saying that is what home computers are for. “These are for educational purposes,” he said.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Bliss vs. Ross: different routes to similar ends

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth and South Portland residents of House District 24 have a choice of two men who both support increased education funding and health care reform, but have differing ideas about how to reach their goals.

Incumbent Democrat Larry Bliss, 55, is facing Republican Wayne H. Ross, 66. Both are Clean Elections candidates.

Bliss, director of career services and professional life development at the University of Southern Maine, became a candidate two years ago, as a last minute fill-in after the primary, because, he said, “I thought it might be interesting.” After he won, he found out he was right.

“It was both more work and more fun than I ever thought it would be,” Bliss said. He is proud of what he has been able to accomplish and wants to continue his work.

Ross, who retired as president of Southern Maine Technical College a year ago, entered the race this year with no prior political experience, because he is concerned about issues at the state level.

Bliss thinks the state should pay for schools what it said it would pay, 55 percent of the cost of education. He said the state now pays 45 percent.

If the state paid in full, he said, the money should be used for property tax relief and should not be used to boost local budgets, either for schools or for towns.

Ross looks at it slightly differently, saying the state should spend one-third of its total budget on school funding, as it did in 1992. Now the state spends about 27 percent, he said. Making up the difference would provide $160 million for property tax relief.

Ross would also like to revamp the school funding formula to reduce its reliance on property valuations. “It’s got to be fair and equitable,” he said.

Last year, with property valuations up and school enrollment flat, “Cape Elizabeth and South Portland got hurt badly,” Ross said.

He also proposed capping valuations for retirees on fixed incomes.

Bliss, too, wants property tax reform. In a meeting with a number of South Portland neighborhood associations, he heard a lot about the pressures property tax hikes are placing on residents. “The stories that got told are heart-wrenching,” Bliss said.

Bliss also knows there are hard stories about health insurance in Maine. He supports a single-payer system that would reduce administrative costs, thereby lowering medical care prices.

He also likes Jonathan Carter’s plan to charge businesses 7 to 13 percent of their payroll for healthcare coverage, which is lower than the 35 to 40 percent most businesses now pay for private insurance. “The total cost will be much less,” Bliss said.

Ross opposes a single-payer system, saying the state would not be efficient and has already raised medical costs too high with state mandates and regulations. Ross said liability and malpractice insurance costs are also part of the problem of expensive medical care.

Ross said the state should pay the full price for services provided to Medicare patients. At present, he said, the state only pays half, leaving doctors and hospitals to shift the remaining cost onto private insurers and uninsured people.

Both men acknowledge their ideas will cost money, not save it, in a time when the state budget is facing a revenue shortfall of as much as $1 billion for the next budget cycle.

Bliss suggested broadening the state sales tax to include more items. “We have the narrowest sales tax in the country,” Bliss said.

He also suggested looking at ways to tax visitors to Maine, such as the lodging tax, increased last year from 7 percent to 8 percent. “We’re still the lowest lodging tax in New England,” he said. Upping the tax to 10 percent, he said, would bring Maine more into line with other states in the region, and would raise revenue significantly.

Ross would make up the additional expense by stopping new programs that were funded in the last legislature but not yet started.

“If we haven’t implemented it, why do we need to move forward?” Ross asked.

Both said the state will need to set priorities and plan spending along those lines, to make ends meet.

Dorm room’s the firehouse for these SMTC students

Published in the Current

Helping town taxpayers and budding firefighters, the Scarborough Fire Department’s live-in student program is entering its 16th year this fall.

Started in 1986 by then-Fire Chief Robert Carson and firefighter Don Jackson, the program allows students in the fire science course at Southern Maine Technical College to live rent-free in the town’s fire stations, in exchange for going on fire and rescue calls and doing maintenance and cleaning work around the station.

When it began, there was one student at Pleasant Hill Fire Station. Now there are 14 students scattered around town, and Fire Chief Michael Thurlow wants to expand it as space allows. Two of the students are women, and several are involved in courses for paramedics or law enforcement, as follow-up studies to fire science.

Deputy Chief Glen Deering oversees the program. Most of the students, he said, start out at 18 years old, and it’s their first time away from home. “You have to work with them, but they’re a lot of fun,” Deering said.

Students whose homes are near SMTC can live at home, the assumption goes. So Scarborough offers its firehouse rooms to students from northern Maine, and even Massachusetts. Some students may not be able to afford both tuition and lodging, Deering said, meaning the live-in arrangement could be the deciding factor in whether a student even attends SMTC.

Others participate for the experience and the career boost. Students never respond alone to a call, allowing them to learn from others. Some come with significant firefighting experience, while others have next to none. But all are at SMTC, and in Scarborough, to learn.

They sign a contract, which includes a curfew and a requirement that they keep their grades up. In exchange for their work, they get a room and free cable TV and Internet access, which are already installed in the station houses anyway.

It is a quiet life. With a 10:30 p.m. curfew and a requirement to be out of bed by 7:30 a.m. on work days and 8 a.m. on school vacations and days off, the students don’t have a lot of time to participate in traditional college life.

But they sign up for it and say it’s not really a problem.

Josh Young, a 19-year-old from Bethel, has been a firefighter since he was 16. A son of a firefighter, he grew up around the fire service.

“It’s a good experience,” Young said. “We get to find out what it’s going to be like for the rest of our lives.” Living around a station house is a skill that must be learned, in addition to how to handle fire or medical emergencies.

In his time in the fire station at Black Point, Young has met a lot of Scarborough’s part-time or per-diem firefighters and paramedics. Many of them are full-time members of other departments in the area, working second jobs to make a bit more money.

“It’s a foot in the door,” Young said.

The students also spend a lot of time with each other. In some cases, they are in the same classes and can work on homework or group projects together.

They have a monthly student meeting at a firehouse, at which they cook supper and talk about how things are going.

On days off, the student firefighters often end up stopping by the other fire stations to visit their friends and relax.

“Every station has its benefits,” said Jon Rioux, a student living at Dunstan’s fire station. Black Point has single rooms, while the other stations require students to share double rooms. The configuration and layout of the stations differ, as do the type of calls. Some stations handle boat calls, while others deal more with vehicle extrication or calls to larger buildings.

“It gives you full-time experience,” Rioux said, which is a leg up in the competitive job market. Plus, he said, “you get to do all the chores.”

Once out of the program, students have job opportunities. The live-in program has a known reputation, and combined with SMTC’s associate’s degree in fire science technology, looking for a job gets easier.

“It looks really good on a resume,” Young said.

One recent hire in Scarborough is a graduate of the program. Andy Clark, now a paramedic based at Dunstan, entered the student live-in program in 1996. He lived in town fire stations for four years, while he studied fire science and became a paramedic.

Clark recommends it to others. “Sitting in a dorm, you’re not going to get any experience,” he said “Live in a fire station and get experience. You can’t beat that.”

Breast cancer walks draw 1,000

Published in the Current

Over 1,000 people of all ages streamed into Fort Williams Park Oct. 7 to support breast cancer research and treatment. The annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk was in Cape for the fifth year, as well as numerous other locations around the state and across the country.

In Cape, dogs and kids in strollers were among the crowds of people who did two laps around the park to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The funds will support breast cancer research, advocacy, early detection outreach and awareness programs and patient support programs.

Laurel Jeffers of Scarborough is on the organizing committee and had a large support group for her team, named “I Love My Life.”

Jeffers, who is living with breast cancer, said she is trying to raise money to promote testing for women under 40. She was diagnosed two years ago, at age 31. “You really don’t have to have a family history,” Jeffers said.

She said mammograms and ultrasounds are not complete diagnostic tools the way a biopsy is. She was undiagnosed for two years because her doctors did not perform a biopsy.

“Mammograms just aren’t cutting it,” Jeffers said. The most important part, she said, is not medical technology. “You have to do your monthly breast exam,” she said.

Pam Foster of Scarborough said she is involved because her mother died of breast cancer in 1976. Her mother-in-law also died of breast cancer, making Foster concerned for her 12-year-old daughter ’s health in adulthood.

Several Scarborough High School students also participated. “It’s really good that they give us this opportunity” to combat breast cancer, said Leah Wallof. “It’s just so important that we need a cure,” said Kerry Jones.

Five years ago, the walk had nine teams and 90 people, according to organizer Terry Baker. This year they had over 50 teams and over 1,000 people. The event raised about $60,000, according to preliminary numbers.

Parents worried about laptop insurance

Published in the Current

To a soundtrack of “If I Had A Million Dollars” by the Barenaked Ladies, Cape parents walked into the middle school cafetorium on three different
occasions last week to get their first real look at the seventh-grade laptop program.

While most of the parents were impressed, significant concerns remain, though not in the educational aspects of the computers.

Rather, parents are worried about increased liability if their children take the laptops home and damage them. The laptops are worth up to $1,300, with the monitor screen alone costing $1,000 to replace.

The meetings, required by the state before a school district can send laptops home with students, were well attended, according to middle school Principal Nancy Hutton. Cape was one of the first towns in the state to get the laptops to the students earlier this school year, and is one of the first to have parent meetings as well, Hutton said.

Yellow Light Breen, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Education, said a form of self-insurance is in place for the laptops. Apple Computer has supplied the state with a number of spare laptops that can be used to replace damaged machines.

Breen said school districts should contact their own insurance carriers to discuss the cost of insuring the laptops locally.

He said other locations distributing laptops have used an insurance policy costing about $50 per machine. It is presently available to school districts in Maine, Breen said, but is not mandatory.

The policy, offered by a company called Safeware. The Insurance Agency, out of Columbus, Ohio, does not cover intentional damage and is presently available either individually or as a district-wide group policy.

The sales manager at Safeware, Brian Haase, said the group policy costs $49.50 per machine, while purchasing insurance individually could cost twice as much. “The best rates are under our group program,” which Haase said has a minimum group size of 10 participants.

Insurance is of particular concern to parents as the schools look at sending the laptops home as early as the end of this month.

“The School Board supports getting these home as quickly as possible,” said Technology Coordinator Gary Lanoie, but is concerned about the schools’potential liability if some computers are broken or damaged.

Some of Cape’s machines have already been dropped and damaged during in-school use, Lanoie said, blaming some of the incidents on the cases used to carry and store the computers.

They have several fastening devices that must all be secured, and the computers could be even more protected, Lanoie said, by installing adhesive Velcro straps to the computer and the inside of the carrying case.

At present, that is forbidden by the state’s policy of not allowing any stickers to be applied to the machines.

Use at home
Internet use during school is monitored by teachers and filtered through the school’s Internet connection. At home, however, those restrictions loosen. Hutton and Lanoie all made it clear that students are expected to use their laptops in public areas of their homes, and not lock themselves away from family members while typing.

Parents are entitled to know their children’s passwords and are allowed to supervise any activity their kids undertake on the laptops. Lanoie said students should not be allowed to install games on the laptops, saying that is what home computers are for.

“These are for educational purposes,” he said.

To make it easier to get on-line with the laptops at home, Lanoie has installed several pre-set configurations for local Internet services.

Parent Ken Alden is working to get together a group of parents to discuss parental issues with the laptops, but said Tuesday he has not gotten much interest so far. He believes parents are waiting until the laptops actually come home before getting involved.

Alden said he thinks the program is a good one, but is concerned about the raiding of the laptop fund by the state government to make up budget shortfalls.

Good opportunities
Lanoie and members of the seventh-grade iTeam – a group of students trained to help others with the laptops – showed parents several features of the software installed on the computers, including the entire World Book Encyclopedia, complete with video and audio, as well as the standard text and photos.

Also installed by the Cape schools is the latest version of Microsoft Office software, including Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Lanoie said that was to help prepare students for high school and later life, in which they would be expected to use Microsoft software, as well as to ease the process of e-mailing work between home and school computers.

Seventh-grade teacher and laptop project leader Beverly Bisbee said she has been pleased to see that girls are as involved as boys in the laptop effort, including the iTeam.

She is looking forward to seeing how the program progresses, with laptops expected for both seventh and eighth grades next year. But, she said, further out than that remains unclear. “What’s going to happen when they get to ninth grade? We don’t know yet,” Bisbee said.

First will come the challenge of taking the laptops home this year. Bisbee said teachers are working hard to make sure homework assignments are not dependent on laptop use. Parents are able to choose whether their children are allowed to take their laptops home on any given day, or ever.

After the seventh-graders return next week from their trip to Kieve, a week-long leadership experience in Nobleboro, teachers and students will begin to learn about using electronic mail on the laptops, through a statewide e-mail system for all seventh-grade students and staff.

Parents will be able to e-mail students during the school day, Lanoie said, but “we don’t want that to become the new way to pass notes in class.”

Cape student suspended for coming to dance drunk

Published in the Current

One Cape Elizabeth High School student has been suspended after coming to the school’s Homecoming Dance drunk and getting sick, according to Principal Jeff Shedd. The administration is also looking into the possibility that the student was not alone.

“There are unconfirmed reports of others,” Shedd said.

Junior Hillary Weimont and senior Aaron McKenney expressed concern about the incident and the administration’s reaction at the regular School
Board meeting Tuesday, where the two are representatives of the high school student body.

McKenney said he was worried that disciplinary action would be too sweeping. “I don’t think we should all suffer because of some kids,” he told the board.

McKenney said the school was looking at having more chaperones at future dances, including possibly coaches, who might be expected to be more aware of members of their teams.

Shedd told the board they had enough chaperones by “old standards,” but the events at the dance showed “we need to have even more.”

In the past, he said, six chaperones for a dance were believed to be enough, but now he is looking at doubling that number, he told the Current.

He said he was considering asking coaches to chaperone dances “because they know the kids in a different way.” Partly because of the coach-athlete relationship and partly because of school policies of athletic suspension for intoxication, Shedd said, “it would be a very strong deterrent.”

Shedd said other schools have problems with alcohol use, too, but in Cape the problem is student efforts to hide their drinking. “The degree of brazenness and the degree of sophistication that our kids bring to disguising their drinking is startling,” Shedd told the board.

He told the Current that he was at the door much of the night, checking students for signs of drunkenness when they arrived. “There was a strong smell of breath mint and gum” when some students entered, he said, but none of those students showed signs of intoxication.

“I was at the door … and I couldn’t tell,” he said.

The student, who was found out when he got sick, was suspended for two days, in keeping with the district’s policy on first offenses for intoxication on school grounds. Subsequent offenses bring longer suspensions.

Board members did not make comments following either report, with the exception of Elaine Moloney, who thanked Shedd for his efforts to involve parents and teachers in Homecoming activities.

Superintendent Tom Forcella said the students were disciplined in keeping with the policies in the student handbook, which include suspension from school and from athletic teams.

The student in question was not a member of any athletic team, Shedd said.

Shedd said he is concerned for the safety of all students. He also said he will take what action is necessary to prevent this from recurring. “The result will be a tightening up,” he said.

Students suspended for drugs at SHS

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

Three students have been suspended from Scarborough High School after two of them were caught under the influence of a prescription drug stolen by the third from her mother.

On Sept. 27, two male students came to school “impaired,” according to Detective Sgt. Rick Rouse. They had taken medication belonging to the mother of a female friend of theirs, who had stolen it.

All of the students are aged 14 or 15, Rouse said, and were charged with possession of illegal drugs. One of the male students was on probation for a
prior offense and was taken to Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland. The other male was charged with “another drug offense,” Rouse said. He was not able to determine what that charge was.

Police later identified the drug as clonazepam, which is sold under the brand name Klonopin. Principal Andrew Dolloff said the drug is used to quell anxiety and is also an anti-seizure medication.

Dolloff said the students came to the attention of a staff member, who reported that they appeared to be high on something.

Dolloff said the procedure, when it is suspected that a student is under the influence, is to call them into the main office and access their condition.

He also said a search was conducted, but school officials did not find the drug in the possession of the students.

Dolloff said discussions are still ongoing about further consequences, including possible expulsion for the student who supplied the drug in the first place. He said that this type of incident at school during school hours is fairly rare, but this incident has raised his level of concern.

Dolloff is planning to hold a forum for parents in the near future to talk about what kids in Scarborough are doing after school, including getting
involved in using drugs and alcohol and engaging in sexual activity.

Dolloff said one thing the school can do is to take a strong stance when students are caught on school grounds, which includes the automatic suspensions.

This week freshmen are participating in preventative awareness programs that focus on issues facing teenagers, including social pressure and participating in illegal activities.

Thursday, October 3, 2002

Public needs to weigh in on Cape school expansion

Published in the Current

Frustrated at being shut out of the planning process, Cape town councilors expect to have a workshop and a public hearing on the school renovation project before sending it to a town-wide referendum in May.

The plan, now estimated to cost $10 million for renovations to the high school and additions to Pond Cove School, remains under review by the school building committee and must be approved by that body and the School Board before going to the council in December.

“It’s a huge amount of money, number one,” said Town Council Chair Jack Roberts. “And number two, the council never appointed this building committee. If they had wanted to involve the council early on, they should have.”

The School Board-appointed building committee, headed by School Board Chair Marie Prager, took a preliminary version of the project to the town’s Planning Board in early September, before either the School Board or the Town Council had looked at the plans, Roberts said.

That’s ignoring the proper flow of this type of process, Roberts said. “It should be coming to the council first.”

The Planning Board did not make any formal decisions, but asked for site plans and a traffic analysis when they are available.

Roberts said the council has not had any official word on the project, though council finance Chair Mary Ann Lynch is a member of the building committee, as is Town Manager Michael McGovern.

Public support needed
Lynch said she, too, wants to hear from the town. “It’s a project of such a magnitude for our small town that it really needs to have the support of the public,” she said. It is especially true because it benefits “one segment of the town” and is paid for by the entire town.

She warned that in the current economic conditions, “the larger the number, the harder the project will be to sell.”

Roberts and Lynch have met with Prager and school finance Chair Elaine Moloney, but Roberts characterized those meetings as “laying down groundwork” for the upcoming budget process, which all parties expect to be difficult due to state budget problems.

Roberts said he first heard the dollar amounts for the school projects by reading local newspapers, and said he knows the building committee has “made a strong effort” to reduce costs from their initial $11.7 million amount.

The latest dollar amount is $9.9 million, with $7.4 million to renovate the high school and $2.5 million to add a kindergarten wing and an art room to Pond Cove School.

The next building committee workshop will focus on Pond Cove, following an Oct. 8 School Board vote on whether the addition will be two stories or one story. That decision will be made based on whether the town wants to keep open an option for all-day kindergarten.

The October School Board workshop will address programs for the high school and middle school. “We want to make sure that all programming issues are done before we start (building),” Prager said.

High School plans developing
The process of planning the building has continued, however. A Sept. 26 building committee meeting addressed work at the high school, and included the completely new idea of expanding the lighted lower field to become the school’s main field, as well as questions on costs for new parking spaces.

At that meeting, Prager said she wanted to develop four options. The first would be an unchanged $9.2 million project previously described as containing all the items on the “wish list” of school staff and administrators. The fourth option would be a “bare bones” project, including only “what we absolutely have to have,” Prager said. The second and third options would be “somewhere in between.”

Those options, she said, would be presented to the School Board Nov. 12 for a decision on which to send to the Town Council. At that time, Prager said, she and Moloney will meet with Roberts and Lynch, and then “with each councilor individually” to discuss the proposal.

Lynch, in attendance at the meeting, said the council would likely have a workshop and then a public hearing on the matter before voting to send it to referendum in May.

Some of the things the committee is looking at are a list of line items that could be added or deleted, including resurfacing the track, expanding the size of the school’s lighted lower field to accommodate varsity sports, reconfiguring the locker rooms to eliminate the need for a building addition, eliminating an addition to the cafeteria, and reupholstering the seats in the auditorium instead of replacing them.

Costs for the specific items have not yet been determined. A $500,000 sprinkler system will be included if local and state fire inspectors determine it is necessary.

The building committee will next meet at 7 p.m., Oct. 30, in the Jordan Conference Room in Town Hall and will make a report to the School Board at the board’s regular business meeting at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 12, in the Town Council Chambers.

Making your home safe from fire

Published in the Current

People should take the initiative to make sure their homes are safe from the dangers of fire. According to Cape Elizabeth Fire Chief Philip McGouldrick, there are a number of small projects that can dramatically improve a home’s fire safety. Some cost no money at all, and others are cheap.

• The most important tool is a smoke detector. Make sure you have smoke detectors installed on each floor of a home, including the basement and attic. Take an extra moment as part of a fall project to make sure they have fresh batteries – often when you change your clocks for Daylight-Saving Time. Also be sure to replace smoke detectors older than 10 years, McGouldrick said.

• Knowledge can also help fight fire. Teach everyone in the house how to shut off the electricity at the main circuit breaker, as well as how to turn off natural gas lines or propane tanks around the house. If valves can’t be closed without a wrench, be sure one is handy, McGouldrick said. Turning off sources of heat or explosive gases can prevent small fires from becoming very large ones.

• Adjust hot water heater settings to make sure the water is not hot enough to scald children. Many more people are burned by water that is too hot than by fires, McGouldrick said. As an added bonus, turning down hot water heaters can result in significant energy savings.

• Look again at where you have stored flammable liquids. Gasoline should never be stored indoors. It should be in a safety can outdoors. Oil paint, as well, should be in a metal container and stored outdoors. Never store gas or propane tanks in the basement, as their vapors are heavier than air and can collect in low places for some time before finding a pilot light or other way to catch fire. Propane for grills should be shut off at the tank when a grill is not in active use; if the tank valve is open, the hose could leak, permitting the buildup of explosive fumes.

• Buy fire extinguishers for your kitchen and for other areas of the home where you use heat regularly, such as a workshop. “Sometimes you get a fire and you can put it out before it spreads,” McGouldrick said. Read the directions before using it, and make sure it is properly maintained. They are good for small fires, like flames in a sauce pan on a stove, but should not be used to take on larger fires. For those, get out of the area and call 911 .

• In case you do have emergencies, make your home easy to find. The best way is to ensure your house numbers are clearly visible from the street, especially at night. There are also special light bulbs that can be triggered to flash on and off in a light on your front porch or lamppost, making it easier for emergency workers to find your home.

• Have the local fire department check your woodstove to be sure it is properly installed. Stoves that are not installed correctly can cause fires, even years after they are put in.

• Clean chimneys twice a year or more often if needed.

If you are doing larger projects, you can add fire safety to them without adding significant expense.

• Asphalt roof shingles can dramatically reduce the risk of your house catching fire if embers from a nearby house or brush fire fall on the roof.

• To further reduce the risk of a brush fire spreading to your home, clear the brush for several feet away from the house.

• Consider lightning rods. Many homes in this area are near trees that are taller, reducing the risk of a lightning strike. But, McGouldrick said, homes in newer developments and tall homes on local high ground could be at risk for a strike.

The ultimate in property protection and fire safety is a home sprinkler system, which can be installed using a pressurized water tank outside, or with a connection to a town water supply.

Sprinklers are equipped with bells to alert people to a fire, in addition to their use as fire extinguishers. They are 96 percent effective at putting out fires on their own, McGouldrick said, and 95 percent of sprinkler discharges are on very small fires.

Scarborough man kidnapped at gunpoint by carpenter

Published in the Current

A Scarborough man was kidnapped at gunpoint from his driveway Oct. 1 by a carpenter claiming he was owed money.

The two drove across Cumberland County in search of a bank to withdraw funds. They ended up at a Falmouth bank, where a teller called police, who arrested the kidnapper without incident.

At 7:10 a.m., Rodger Smith, 55, of Old Colony Lane was in his driveway when he was approached by Joseph Loughery, 43, of Poland, according to Falmouth Police Chief Edward Tolan. Loughery said he wanted payment for carpentry work done on Smith’s house a year ago.

Smith told Loughery he wasn’t going to pay, Tolan said, because the quality of the work was poor.

At that point, Loughery produced a 9-millimeter handgun from a shoulder holster and told Smith the gun had two bullets, “one for his wife and one for his knee,” Tolan said.

Smith’s wife was home, but was unaware of the situation, said Falmouth Detective Tom Brady.

Loughery demanded payment for work done on Smith’s home about a year ago, Tolan said. Scarborough Code Enforcement Officer Dave Grysk said the only permit Smith had for 2001 was for a 14-by-18-foot porch to be constructed at his home.

The work was to be done by “Joe the Carpenter,” the name under which
Loughery does business.

Fearing for his wife’s safety, Smith agreed to drive Loughery to a bank where Smith would withdraw the money to pay for the work, Tolan said. They drove around the area because a number of banks weren’t open, ending up at the Peoples Heritage Bank on Route 1 in Falmouth, Tolan said.

In the parking lot, Loughery again showed Smith the gun and the two bullets, all of which were in a briefcase on Loughery’s lap, and followed Smith partway into the bank. Smith went to a teller while Loughery stood in the foyer and then outside the bank, Tolan said.

Smith told the teller that he had been kidnapped at gunpoint and asked the teller to call police. The call came into the Falmouth police at 9:12 a.m., reporting a man with a gun at the bank, Tolan said, leading officers to believe they had a possible bank robbery on their hands.

Upon arrival, officers saw Loughery outside the bank and “subdued him without incident,” Tolan said. A search of the car turned up the gun, wo bullets and two pairs of handcuffs. “You can surmise whatever you think those handcuffs were to be used for,” Tolan said.

Falmouth police are handling the charges from the incident, which is considered a “continuing crime” that began in Scarborough and ended in Falmouth, according to Tolan and Scarborough Detective Sgt. Rick Rouse.

Loughery was arraigned Wednesday morning on charges of kidnapping and two counts of criminal threatening with a firearm, all felonies. A misdemeanor charge of violation of probation was not part of the arraignment but is expected, Detective Brady said.

Brady said Loughery was on probation in Androscoggin County for a second offense of operating under the influence, and was to be transferred to the Androscoggin County Jail after his arraignment in Portland District Court Wednesday morning.

He said Loughery is originally from out of state and had traveled around the country a lot. Tolan said his department is in the process of conducting a nationwide records search for Loughery’s criminal history, if there is any.

Phone calls from the Current to the Smith residence were not returned, and there was no answer at the door of their home Wednesday afternoon.

Neighbors on Old Colony Lane said the Smiths had not been home the evening after the incident and did not know how to contact them.