LA Metro Magazine - June 2017

Page 1

with ICE CREAM | Page 28

40 40 UNDER

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @




LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @




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contents VOL. 2

June 2017

No. 3 FEATURES 16 Field to Family Local farms, markets, CSA’s 28 Ice Cream in LA Summertime FUN 40 Rick Speer’s Story Local icon retires




52 Make-A-Wish Maine Local fundraising makes a difference

QUICK READS 10 Veterans Memorial Park Best in the state 24 Local Eats Hottest new restaurants to try 60 World Refugee Day 63 40 Under 40 Bios Uplift LA’s rising professionals


LOCAL EVENTS 12 Summer Block Party Annual outdoor bash 22 World Refugee Day 38 Boats ‘n Brews


On the cover: “Cheers” to ICE CREAM! Our local young models, Delia & Caden, making it look easy.



58 Summer Fun & Films Lewiston Police Dept.



ho doesn’t like ice cream?

In fact, some people say life is too short; always eat dessert first. Well today, I’d like to start with the main course. In its first year, LA Metro Magazine has been very well received in our communities. My partnership with the chamber was calculated and intentional. I knew they could help be the catalyst the magazine would need to get a successful start. Their contributions have been invaluable. Recently, the chamber has decided to no longer continue as a publishing partner for LA Metro Magazine. We mutually agree that this is a good move for the chamber and for the magazine. We part ways, amicably, and look forward to working together in other ways to tell the vibrant stories that highlight the best in the LA Metro area. I will forever be grateful for the chamber and its staff for helping to bring an LA print publication back to life. I’m proud to announce that opportunity has knocked and I’ve chosen to open the door. Starting with this issue, Matt Leonard is back on the team at LA Metro. Matt is a Maine native, a celebrated veteran of the United States Navy, and a resident of Auburn committed to the growth of the area. He will assume the duties as chief visionary officer, focusing on business development, creative development,

and working on a vision to steer the magazine’s course into the future. It is great to have him back on the team. Also, we’re proud to bring you the 2nd Annual Uplift LA “40 Under 40” award winners as we share the unique stories of these rising young professionals. Now, about that ice cream. This was a fun project for our summer issue. (Taste testing was a tough job, but somebody had to do it.) Some of us have volunteered to taste every hard serve ice cream flavor available at the iconic Tabers ice cream stand this summer. Right now, the effort has come to a complete standstill with the newly discovered favorite, Peanut Butter Pie. We hope you enjoy this story plus all the others. I’ll look forward to seeing you around town and look forward to your feedback on the magazine. Best,

JIM MARSTON Editor-in-chief LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @



Jim Marston MARS Marketing LLC


Jim Marston


ADVERTISING SALES Jim Marston Matt Leonard Tim Rucker Steve Simard

PRODUCTION MANAGERS Jim Marston Matt Leonard

VISUALS EDITOR Lauryn Hottinger



t ng ou Comi 2017! st Augu

Toby Haber-Giasson Dan Marois Karen Landry Michael Krapovicky Emily Chouinard David Muise

PHOTOGRAPHY Lauryn Hottinger Daniel Marquis

COVER PHOTO Lauryn Hottinger

LA Metro Magazine is published four times each year by LA Metro Magazine, LLC Editorial and subscription info: Call 207-783-7039 email: 9 Grove Street, Auburn, ME 04210 Opinions expressed in articles or advertisements, unless otherwise noted, do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher or staff. Every effort has been made to ensure that all information presented in this issue is accurate, and neither LA Metro Magazine nor any of its staff are responsible for omissions or information that has been misrepresented to the magazine. No establishment is ever covered in this magazine because it has advertised, and no payment ever influences our stories and reviews. Copyright Š2017 LA Metro Magazine, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission, in writing, from the publisher. Printed in Lewiston, ME, USA.



chief visionary officer’s note



year ago this magazine came to life with the mission of promoting the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan region and the people, businesses, and events that make this region so great. The magazine has certainly evolved over the course of the past year and, I am proud to be back on the team! I believe in the positive future of the greater Lewiston Auburn area communities and I am confident that LA Metro Magazine will play an important role in promoting that story and the interests that make LA such a great place to visit, play, and stay. Lewiston Auburn, Maine currently ranks as the second largest metropolitan area in the state— and growing! In fact, the young, hip and vibrant communities of Lewiston Auburn are the only areas in the state with growing school enrollment numbers and with more persons under the age of 20 than anywhere else in the state. Daily, while walking through the streets of LA, one can see first hand the cities’ reinvigorated urban economic cores with revitalized historic buildings and new and up and coming industry that are attracting rising professionals such as those featured in the 40 Under 40 award feature. You’ll also find many great events highlighted in this issue which demonstrates the true sense of community LA exudes as well as… well, great events and things to do! I hope you enjoy this issue as much as I enjoyed being a part of it! …And yes, I enjoyed the “research” for our LA Eats story. Best,

Matt Leonard Chief Visionary Officer

LA Metro Magazine is proudly printed in Lewiston, Maine at:

8 Lexington Street, Lewiston • LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @


MEMORIAL PARK The best veterans park in the state By Emily Chouinard | Photography by Lauryn Hottinger


estled on the banks of the historic Lewiston Great Falls, just off the corner of Lincoln and Main Street, sits the one-of-a-kind Veterans Memorial Park. I met here with Army veteran Bert Dutil, who gave me the rundown on all there is too see and how the park came to be.

call. Phil Nadeau, City Administrator, placed the call and asked if their park idea was still on. He offered them what used to be known as Heritage Park. With a city vote, it wasn’t long before the park was given to the L&A Veterans Council. The work began on the first monument, “The Price of Freedom.”

The L&A Veterans Council

Price of Freedom Monument

After the council was founded, there came the idea for a park. They got to work right away. The original hope was to have it across from the Lewiston courthouse. After that fell through, the idea for the park seemed to have dropped for sometime. Until one day Bert got a phone

Most likely the favorite attraction to many locals are these

Bert Dutil was the first chairman of the L-A Veterans Council and served as such for 9 years. The council was started in 1988. After losing the Veterans’ home in South Paris, Bert sent a letter out to every post in Lewiston and Auburn. He had asked the people if they were willing to work together to get something started here in the twin cities. It was a bold move. The two towns had not worked well together in the past. Despite that, everybody seemed very happy and on board.



At the very front of the park sits a large stone monument depicting the five branches of the military. Men and women in their separate uniforms stand proud and united on this Price of Freedom stone. When the idea for this tribute came about it was quickly realized how expensive it would be to make. The council made the assumption it would take about three years to raise the money. But due to the flooding amount of donations, it was only within a year after starting the park that the stone was brought to life. When people around town heard about the new park, they were eager to pitch in. It was at this time that the first three stones in the bottom section of the park were also placed.

A tribute to our Veterans

By Emily Chouinard | Photography by Lauryn Hottinger | Veterans Memorial Park three stones, arranged in a curve in the center of the lawn. What makes these so special is their truly personal meaning. Both sides of each stone bear the names of many local veterans. Anyone can submit an application, along with $35, to have a loved one’s name placed on the monuments. With the recent addition of the 29th stone, there are now over 6,000 names here. At least one new stone seems to come every year, as the applications for names still come flooding in. Many people are under the assumption that the person must have passed on, but this is not the case. Any person who has served in any branch of the military can be accepted here. When it is time for the unveiling of a new stone a ceremony is held at the park, almost always on the Saturday before Memorial Day. I have many memories of coming to the Veterans Park with my grandfather, who joined the Navy at age 17. Like many others who come here, I find it an appropriate place to come and honor his memory, since his passing in 2009. On stone number 4 I find his name, Albert G. Chouinard, and I take a moment to remember him.

Submitted photos Joined Navy in 1953

Albert Chouinard (left) at award ceremony in Belgium. Receiving Joint Service Commendation Medal from General L. Lightener. (June 1971)

My grandmother, Diane, still gushes over how handsome he was in his uniform. Throughout my grandfather’s 21 years of service, he and my grandmother traveled to many places together. During this time they grew their family and raised my father and his three siblings. They were together during his entire Navy career. The two of them lived in 5 different states as well as Belgium, Bermuda and Panama. He also went to Vietnam twice, once in 1967 and then again in 1971.

the stone. What makes “Remember the Maine” so remarkable is the shell on the front side. It is one of the few retrieved from the ship many years ago. The shell once stood in front of City Hall. When Bert Dutil noticed one day that it had gone missing, he immediately started asking around about its where abouts. It took some hunting down but it was eventually retrieved. It served as inspiration to this stone. The shell stands connected to the monument along with a short reading written by a history professor from Bowdoin College- you can’t help but stop and take a gander at it when passing by.

Honoring the branches

There are many future plans for the Veterans Park. The addition of a plane is something to keep an eye out for. The L-A Veterans Council has been working for a while to get an airplane delivered. It will soon sit on a pedestal and will be seen by anyone crossing the bridge connecting Lewiston and Auburn. It will stand as a tribute to the Air Force and hopefully attract even more new visitors. Currently they have a life-sized jeep, representing the Army and the Marines. These branches use this type of vehicle more than the others. For the Navy and Coast Guard their tributes are an anchor leaning peacefully on a rock, and a five-inch cannon gun. So it is only fitting the Air Force gets a statue as well. There are many different events and speeches given here at the Veterans Memorial Park. Appropriately, Memorial Day is their biggest event. But the park can be enjoyed on any day. The location alone makes it a great place to sit and read or take a short walk by the falls. There is so much to see and enjoy here, as well as so many wonderful tributes and statutes to appreciate. Thanks to the dedicated members of the L-A Veterans Council and many donations every year, the park continues to grow. This is a small piece of Lewiston we should all be very proud of.

“He was proud of his service with the Navy, and I was always so proud to be a Navy wife,” clarifies my grandmother. He belonged to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and they attended both Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations in Lewiston every year.

Remembering the USS Maine

Among these veterans’ stones, in the center of the curve, stands an incredibly unique tribute to the USS Maine battleship. The ship had 5 Maine men on board when it sunk in Cuba. Their names can be found on the back of LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @


When you grant wishes

HOPE is returned

When you grant wishes

HOPE is returned

The Summer Block Party has raised $52,000 in two years for Make-A-Wish Maine. This money grants wishes to local kids who are facing life-threatening illnesses.

Logan, 13 Lewiston, ME Lymphoma “I wish to meet Dustin Pedroia.”

Please plan to attend the 3rd Annual Summer Block Party on


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Matthew Delamater photo


our visuals editor


Lauryn Hottinger of Lauryn Sophia Photography is a professional photographer in Southern Maine. Available for weddings, families and editorial.

Pam Ashby

Pam has been a graphic designer since 2001. She runs her own graphic design business, and is a full-time designer at Uncle Andy’s Digest. She also has additional experience in sales, management and customer service. A sports enthusiast, Pam enjoys watching and participating in a variety of athletic activities. Her first passion is basketball, but she is also an avid runner, participating in area 5 and 10Ks, and enjoys hiking.



our editorial director TOBY HABER-GIASSON

Toby hails from the bustling New York City world of P.R. and event promotion. She interviewed bands and wrote album reviews for the likes of Creem and Audio magazines. Locally, she’s logged 10 years coordinating publicity for First Universalist Church of Auburn events, co-founded UU Theatre and Pleasant Note Open Mic and Poetry Slam, which she co-hosts.

Karen Landry

Karen Landry was born in Massachusetts and moved to Maine at age 10. Shortly thereafter she read The Outsiders, and decided she wanted to be a writer. Or a greaser. She studied Arts and Humanities at the University of Southern Maine. She still enjoys reading, writing, music, and most of all making her 4 year-old son, David, smile.

Dan Marois

Dan Marois is an actor, producer, writer and editor. As owner of Mystery for Hire, he has performed in 750 mystery dinner theater shows. With Mainely Improv, he does improv comedy performances as well as corporate training in using the skills of improvisation. He is also the Administrative Director for the Maine Public Relations Council.

David Muise David is a serial entrepreneur, writer, painter and player of very mediocre guitar. He fits these endeavors in around his busy fly fishing schedule.


Daniel Marquis

Dan’s interest in photography was sparked by his love of nature and the outdoors. He has been an avid bird watcher and kayaker for some twenty years. More recently he has become quite involved with cityscape photography, mostly with the LewistonAuburn area, and particularly at dawn and dusk. There is so much great architecture here in the twin cities, and the skylines are second to none. Dan strives to show our communities in a way that most people just don’t see in their day to day lives.

Emily Chouinard

Michael Krapovicky

Emily is a freelance writer born and raised in Auburn. She got her start writing for local newspapers in the Livermore Falls area.

Michael is a freelance writer and musician from Auburn. He graduated from the University of Maine Presque Isle in 1999 with a BFA.

Emily grew up traveling all around northern Maine with her father, which she believes sprouted her passion for the outdoors and the history of Maine towns and their people.

He has submitted stories and articles for various publications, and performs throughout New England as a solo guitarist and bassist. Michael enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending leisure time with family and friends.


LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @



Bell Farms Inc.

1552 Riverside Drive, Auburn (207) 784-1455 or see them on Facebook. Bell Farms is a local staple, and if you’re looking for corn and potatoes, this is the place. Check out their variety of goods at their indoor farm stand, which is open seven days a week. Reviews of Bell Farms boast: “Best potatoes,” and, “Great service.”


Blackie’s Farm Fresh Produce 966 Minot Avenue, Auburn (207) 786-0005 or see them on Facebook.

A fixture in Lewiston/Auburn for decades now, Blackie’s is the go-to place for many seeking fresh local produce. Located in Auburn (the Lewiston location was sold this year) they offer stellar produce and other food at exceptional prices. Blackie’s grows some seasonal vegetables such as cucumbers, corn, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and squash on the family farm in Minot. He also supplements his produce with other local growers (potatoes from the aforementioned Bell Farms or strawberries from Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, for example). More exotic fare, such as pineapples, or out-of-season fruits, veggies, and goods are bought wholesale.



Jillson’s Farm and Sugarhouse 143 Jordan Bridge Road, Sabattus (207) 375-4486

Starting out in 1966 as a vegetable stand, and becoming a full blown farm in the late 1980’s, Jillson’s Farm and Sugarhouse grows veggies and flowers. But what they’re probably most known for is their maple syrup. Members of the Maine Maple Producers, they tap 1700 trees in their area and are famous for their breakfasts on the farm. They also take part in local farmers markets.




Springworks Farm

347 Lisbon Street, Lisbon (207) 407-4207 Springworks Farm was created by Bowdoin College undergrad Trevor Kenkel. It’s a collective of family and friends who combine aquaponics and other sustainable farming methods to supply greens year round in a way that doesn’t leave an environmental impact. The flagship farm in Lisbon, Maine, houses a 6,000 square foot aquaponic greenhouse, and plans for expansion. Visit the retail farm stand.

Community Supported Agriculture 143 Jordan Bridge Road, Sabattus (207) 375-4486 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a way for people to buy directly from a farmer. When a share is purchased, the customer gets a box or bag of seasonal farm products weekly. Advantages for farmers: • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin. • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow. • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow. Advantages for consumers: • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits. • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking. • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season. • Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm including veggies they’ve never been known to eat. • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown.


Local Farmer’s Markets

A farmers market is a public and recurring assembly of farmers or their representatives selling the food that they produced directly to consumers. Farmers markets facilitate personal connections and bonds of mutual benefits between farmers, shoppers, and communities. By cutting out middlemen, farmers receive more our food dollars and shoppers receive the freshest and most flavorful food in their area and local economies prosper. Each farmers market defines the term “local” according to the agriculture of its region and regularly communicates that definition to the public. Farmers markets also implement guidelines and operating rules that ensure the farmers market consists principally of farms selling directly to the public products that the farms have produced.

O FAMILY By Karen Landry

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @


In our region, there are numerous grocery stores to choose from. But some of the best fresh choices are grown and sold right here in our community.



By Karen Landry | Field to Family

Blackie’s Farm Fresh Produce


fixture in Lewiston/Auburn for decades now, Blackie’s is the go-to place for many seeking fresh local produce. Located in Auburn (the Lewiston location was sold this year) they offer stellar produce and other food at exceptional prices. Blackie’s grows some seasonal vegetables such as cucumbers, corn, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and squash on the family farm in Minot. He also supplements his produce with other local growers (potatoes from the aforementioned Bell Farms or strawberries from Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, for example). More exotic fare, such as pineapples, or out-of-season fruits, veggies, and goods are bought wholesale. Norman “Blackie” Labbe likes to keep things simple and old school. Why change something if it still works? A character as famous as his farm stand, 86 year-old Blackie still works full time. Whether it’s on the farm, or at his desk doing actual “paperwork” (no computers, just phones and fax), Blackie is working hard and keeping it real. He couldn’t have done it without his equally diligent wife, Jacqueline, who still works some at the farm stand. The couple raised eight children, ran their farm, and ran the business

together. A multiple-time survivor or cancer, Blackie just can’t stay home from work. In 2013, the old farm burned down on Christmas Day. (Eerily, 75 years to the day that the family’s farm in Turner burned down). Matt Manson, honorary family member who has worked with the Labbes, said the 2013 fire was, “Like a blessing in disguise. That farm was very old. We’d split wood for them, then Blackie and his wife would have to feed the wood-burning furnace all winter. The new farm has a lot of updates to make it easier on them, including an oil furnace.”

Blackie’s first farm stand Blackie, himself, can still be found at his Auburn farm stand, mingling with customers. If he’s not handing out lollipops to the little ones, he’s joking with the customers. During corn season, most locals can quote Blackie by heart now. He’s always reminding them, “Boil the corn for only five minutes!” Blackie’s son, Mike (right) and crew working the farm

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @


A Fresh Crop Grows at the Reopened Whiting Farm By Dan Marois

A farm that closed its doors in 2013 has found new life and direction under a new owner. The farm in question is Whiting Farm, an iconic local institution founded some eighty years ago. The Whiting family owned and operated the farm for many years mostly under the watchful guidance of brothers, Elmer and Buster.

The new owner is a nonprofit that houses, educates and supports people with physical and intellectual disabilities. JFM Chief Executive Officer, Peter Kowalski, said that the agency purchased the farm with its 127 acres in December of 2013 for about $600,000.

Running the farm

Kim Finnerty, a former chemistry teacher at Edward Little High School, now serves as Whiting Farm Director for JFM Homes. She says the farm is an opportunity to continue the mission of the organization and to keep farming alive in the area. “The farm will provide jobs and developmental programs for Murphy clients. Right now, we have two clients that are employees working in the greenhouses and farm stand and we have eight students from the school that visit once a week,” said Finnerty. “It will also become a resource for anyone in the community who wants to learn about gardening and agriculture. We are so pleased that we are able to continue the legacy started by the Whitings by keeping the property as a working farm.” Finnerty became familiar with the Whiting Farm when she first brought her chemistry students from the high school there with the goal of teaching chemistry through agriculture.

Elmer Whiting closed the farm in the spring of 2013, following the death of his brother and after a medical condition worsened in his right hand. No family members stepped forward to continue the family farm. Because of debts, Whiting was faced with having to sell the farm to buyers who would have developed the land rather than use it as a working farm. John F. Murphy Homes (JFM) literally “bought the farm” and saved it from extinction.

“I simply used the farm as a classroom in the model of Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, a program that uses farming as a teaching resource,” said Finnerty. In her first year offering the program at the high school, she had 18 students participate. In the second year, 108 students signed up for the farm learning experience.

Elmer Whiting- volunteer

When JFM Homes acquired the farm, Finnerty left her teaching position to become the full-time leader of the farm and resident visionary of what might happen there. She’s been fortunate to learn from Elmer Whiting, who volunteers at her side in just about every venture. She says that everything she’s learned about farming comes from Elmer. “Elmer is like a father to me,” explains Finnerty. “He shares his knowledge and keeps the farming tradition alive.” The farm will become a combination of old and new ventures in the years ahead. “We’ll have mums in the fall. Poinsettias in the winter,” said Finnerty. “In the greenhouses, visitors will find vegetable seedlings, tomato, basil, mint, cabbage and lettuce. There will be the array of hanging flower baskets, tables full of bright red geraniums, marigolds, asters, petunias and pansies.”



By Dan Marois | A Fresh Crop Grows Finnerty will continue to teach, but her students will be of all ages and backgrounds. “Eventually, the farm will have a very large educational aspect,” she said, with visions that the community with thrive at the Whiting Farm. “The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers program provides participants with at least 40 hours of in-depth training in the art and science of horticulture,” said Finnerty. “In return, trained Master Gardeners will volunteer their time and expertise for activities at Whiting Farm.”

FARMER’S MARKETS LEWISTON FARMER’S MARKET Late May through mid-October Summer Market - Bates Mill No. 5 parking lot Sundays 10:00am to 1:00pm POLAND FARMER’S MARKET Mid-June through September Route 26in the Poland Crossing Plaza Fridays 2:00pm to 6:00pm 4 SEASON FARMER’S MARKET Year round 9 Third Street, Auburn Monday through Friday 12:00pm to 6:00pm, Saturday 10:00am to 4:00pm AUBURN FARMER’S MARKET Late May through early October 67 Mill Street, Auburn (Happy Days Diner parking lot) Every Tuesday 4:00pm to 7:00pm KENNEDY PARK FARMER’S MARKET June through September 120 Park Street, Lewiston, Me. Every Tuesday 2:00pm to 5:00pm

COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE Some local farms offering CSA’s are:

Planting seeds for more programs

Another project will involve the Somali Bantu Community Organization of Lewiston-Auburn, with members growing their own vegetables. “They come from a farming culture and will be working on 10 acres.” Finnerty said that plans are on tap for the Busy Bee Boxes program. “Customers can go online and place an order from the food stand and pay for it online. Then all people have to do is to drive to the stand and everything will be packaged for them in their own box and ready to go.” She envisions the Crock Pot Club where customers can pick up vegetables all cut and processed for crock pot cooking. “People can simply add their own protein to the mix.” “It would be nice to have our own café,” adds Finnerty. “I can even see a farmer-in-training program in the summer.”


LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @




LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @


By Michael Krapovicky

Some of the hottest new places to eat Three of Lewiston’s newest eateries were asked if they had a

dish that was indeed their “one to try,” a choice not to be missed when sampling their menu. Although we sampled their “one,”

there is a wide selection at Boba, El Pocho’s Mexican Grill, and

Ben’s Burritos, satisfying the most finicky of clientele, as well as the average folk who just want a delicious, affordable meal.

El Pocho’s Mexican Grill


990 Lisbon St. Lewiston (207) 333-3226 Monday-Saturday 11AM-8PM

125 Scribner Blvd, Lewiston (207) 312-4749 Monday-Saturday 11AM-8PM

Flavor of Mexico

The name of the place derives from “my son Fernando’s nickname,” said Yolanda MacWinnie, co-owner of El Pocho’s with husband Todd, and brother Jose Mata. “Pocho” is a slang term that refers to someone who identifies as Mexican-American. MacWinnie moved from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, when she was 15. She worked as waitress and bartender at places such as Thatcher’s Family Style Restaurant, and Mixer’s Nightclub and Lounge. MacWinnie credits Mike Yo, former owner of Mixer’s, as a chief source of guidance and education in the service industry. “In Matamoros and other border towns, people served food out of their home; and my brother started working in places like that when he was 14.” MacWinnie smiled as she related her brother’s dutiful work habits. “Jose does all the cooking here at El Pocho’s. He comes in 5:30, quarter of six- the crack of dawn- to begin the sauces, get the food ready; he’s excited to begin his day.” Jose Mata eagerly illustrated his passion for his profession. “I’m always cooking; it’s what I love. At family gatherings and with friends, I’m always the one making the food, wearing the apron.” “About as close to authentic as you’ll find in Maine. Felt like I was walking into a little taco shop in Santa Monica,” reads a 5-star Facebook review. The restaurant layout is a simple diner-style with a countertop in full view of the kitchen. “It’s very familiar to folks from Mexico and the border states in the U.S.” MacWinnie explained. “We’ve heard from people who’ve moved to Maine from California that the food and the environment is just like the taco stands they loved in Los Angeles.” The chicken enchilada is MacWinnie’s choice as the “One to Try.” The red sauce is a traditional Mexican family recipe, made from chile ancho (dried pepper). “Our signature sauces are warming and flavorful: not too hot to the taste.” The MacWinnies and Mata are extremely pleased at the great feedback they are receiving, and optimistic for the future of El Pocho’s Mexican Grill. “At this point, we’re a new place; we’re testing the waters.” MacWinnie said. “But we want to expand, get an alcohol license, build on what we have.”




Fast Casual Delicacies

The website describes Boba as “serving various Vietnamese and Thai dishes — all with a unique French twist that never compromises authenticity.” Owners Zach Pratt and Keshia Thanephonesy chose the appellation ‘Boba’ from the bubble tea served there, a traditional Southeast Asian beverage with small marbles of tapioca. Boba’s staple dish is pho, a traditional Vietnamese soup served with choice of broth, noodle, meat and size of portion. They cook their pho in a 60 gallon pot and Pratt reported that they are selling at least 6 pots a week currently. Pratt’s interest in the culinary arts began at an early age. “I was born and raised here in Lewiston/Auburn. I was a student at Lewiston Regional Technical Center’s Green Ladle Culinary Program; Chef Dan Caron was one of my mentors. This is where I developed my passion for cooking, giving back to the community, feeding people.” Over the course of his education and work experience at restaurants like Marcos, Pratt started drawing up a business plan for what he initially envisioned as a food truck. In 2010 he met Thanephonesy, and the two partnered to create a Southeast-Asian themed food business. They utilized a property at 990 Lisbon Street, connected to a gas station’s store. They renovated the space, added a 12 foot bar, hired a local artist to create the blackboard menu, and the first incarnation of Boba was underway. Feedback from social media and word-of-mouth was extremely positive. “In six, eight months,” recalled Pratt, “we were slammed.” Unable to support their customer base at their location, they moved to a pop-up model, using other venues with their staff, recipes and ingredients, and found similar success. They took time in finding a new location that best complemented their fast casual concept. “We like to isolate ourselves,” said Pratt. “We want our restaurant to be a destination in itself, so we chose areas where there’s nothing else around. We want people to say, ‘We went to an old convenience store; they remodeled it, and the food is amazing.’ We rely on that conversation in the community, that buzz.” The two have significant and clear designs for the future. “Our plan is to open in Auburn; franchise this idea.” said Pratt. “We will be able to work with our staff to have our brand consistent throughout any location.”

By Michael Krapovicky | Some of the hottest new places to eat

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Ben’s Burritos

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Community-Minded Creativity 97 Lisbon St., Lewiston (207) 740-8363 Open Tues-Wed. 11AM-3PM, Fri-Sat. 11-3, 4:30-7PM. Although “Ben’s Burritos” carries his name, Ben Scott acknowledges that it is Tricia Tomlinson who is the conceptual architect of their shared enterprise. “Food is a gift; a time for sharing, telling stories,” said Tomlinson. “My degree is in anthropology; a big part of that is food and culture. I’m interested in how food connects people. Tomlinson, an Auburn native, has seen the reclamation of Lewiston’s downtown first-hand. “We wanted to be on Lisbon Street. New life is happening here: a lot more small businesses, a lot more community-based stuff going on. We wanted to be a part of that. We want to give people an affordable family-oriented option, more all-inclusive than some of the more posh restaurants.”


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“The people who come here and are familiar with California-style Mexican food generally ask for the carnitas (pork with lime, spices, garlic, and some proprietary ingredients),” said Scott. “A Wee Bit Farm in Orland, ME, is where we get some of our pork, and beef which we use for our albondigas (a Mexican meatball traditionally used in soups).” Scott and Tomlinson are in the process of acquiring a liquor license and plan to add two more employees within the foreseeable future. Prominently configured in Ben’s Burritos’ doorway is a Pay-It-Forward board- which allows those who wish to purchase a meal ticket for those less fortunate. They encourage those who can to stop in and ‘pay it forward.’

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When asked to describe their menu, and for the “One to Try,” Tomlinson suggested, “Eben’s Loaded Burrito, named for my son. Most of our dishes are named after our family members. My sister Lindsey and I research the recipes we use here, with Ben’s input, and we all assist in the food preparation. Our specials change daily; we want to follow seasonal trends, offering fresh local ingredients whenever possible. We like to play with our menu a lot. As an example, we’ve done Asian Fusion - Korean barbecue with a kimchee slaw. We want to be funky about our food offerings, not too tied down by convention.”


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By Dan Marois | Photography by Lauryn Hottinger | Ice Cream in LA

Dairy Joy’s start

Tabers roots

The story is similar for the Hargreaves at Tabers.

“Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear some story about people coming here when they were younger,” said Keene, sitting in her second-floor office at the Campus Avenue shop in Lewiston. “Today, we have grandparents who come here with their children and grandchildren for ice cream. We see lots of families as our customers.” Keene points to an apartment building across the street from the shop and notes that her father lived there in his youth.

“My parents, Richard and Maureen, purchased Tabers in 1981,” said Dan, their son. “My wife and I purchased it from them in 2008.” He said that his parents moved to Maine from Rhode Island when he was two years old and he literally grew up with the business. Dan met his wife, Ellen, in Brazil where she was raised. “After college, I went backpacking in Brazil and I met Ellen there,” said Dan. After weathering a three-year long-distance romance, Ellen came to Maine. Today, the couple lives across the street from Tabers lakeside location. “We are pleased to say that one of the owners is always in the shop,” said Ellen.

Cone in-hand at Tabers

“When he was young, my father, Ronald Nadeau, would look across the street and say, ‘someday I’m going to own that ice cream place’.”


Both shops have a unique place in the ice cream market. Tabers specializes in hard serve ice cream and doesn’t offer soft serve. Dairy Joy offers hard serve ice cream but they are most well-known for their soft serve offerings.

His wish came true, first in buying the Auburn Dairy Joy in 1987 and, then, the Lewiston shop in 1991, with his wife, Linda. Ronald has since passed away, but Linda keeps an interest in the operations. “She will come by now and then and she buys our bananas for the shop. We call her the banana lady,” said Keene, proud of the fact that the business is still family owned by herself and her husband, a local firefighter.

“In the early years, the ice cream was made over there,” said Hargreaves, as he pointed to a rustic Maine homestead and barn adjacent to Tabers’ scenic location on Lake Auburn. “Today, we don’t make the ice cream.”

Scooping ice cream at Tabers

Keene started in the family business in 1993, when she managed an indoor ice cream shop on Center Street in Auburn. While Dairy Joy in Auburn experienced a few other locations, it now stands as a fixture on Spring Street near Mechanics Savings Bank.

Hargreaves said that his ice cream is a Hood premium product. “We have 24 hard serve flavors, two sorbets and two yogurt flavors.”

Most product comes to the shop in three gallon tubs that make their way to rows of freezers. With a season that runs seven days a week from mid-April through mid-September, Tabers dishes out lots of ice cream. “On a very busy week, we can go through about 50 tubs of ice cream,” said Hargreaves. “In fact, I may be low-balling that estimate.” LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @




By Dan Marois | Photography by Lauryn Hottinger | Ice Cream in LA At Dairy Joy, the hard serve ice cream is made in Sanford by Shain’s of Maine. It comes in 23 flavors, one flavor shy of what’s offered at Tabers. And while both shops offer an assortment of hard serve flavors, there’s one that stands as the alltime favorite.

Top 5 ice cream consuming countries in the world (per capita, gallons per year):

1. New Zealand: 7.5 2. United States: 5.5 3. Austrailia: 4.8 4. Finland: 3.8 5. Sweden: 3.8

“Everyone likes vanilla,” said Ellen Hargreaves, echoing that it is a favorite for all ages. “Our older customers tend to like grapenut, butter pecan and pistachio.” For husband Dan, he likes cookies & cream and Maine blueberry but those favorites might soon be replaced. “A newer flavor we’ve added is peanut butter pie. That is top on my list.” On a recent visit to Tabers, Ian Pullen, of Norway Savings Bank, said that his favorite flavor is Maine blueberry. For Pullen, a visit to Tabers is much more than simply ordering ice cream. “Tabers is an iconic place in the area and I’ve been coming here for years,” said Pullen, who on his recent visit was purchasing a gift certificate for an upcoming Chamber of Commerce event. “It’s a gorgeous setting being near the lake with a new mini-golf course and driving range. I love it here.” At Dairy Joy, vanilla is a top selling flavor, closely followed by cookie dough and mint chocolate chip. Keene’s personal favorite is a peanut butter supreme. “It is a dish of peanut butter ice cream with a core in the middle that holds hot fudge,” said Keene, rolling her eyes with delight. But at Dairy Joy, the lure for customers is the soft serve ice cream. In addition to the usual chocolate and vanilla, the shop offers coffee, strawberry, and black raspberry soft serve.

“We are also one of the few places that have peanut butter soft serve. People travel from all parts of the area to get this treat.” Keene takes pride that the soft serve is still made in older soft serve machines which she fears might need to be ©

or a shake?

replaced in the future. “We’ve tried soft serve from newer machines and it just doesn’t have the same flavor and consistency as the older machines. The older the machine, the better the cream,” admits Keene. “We are always looking for older machines to buy.”

Frappes vs. Shakes

Who knew there could be a controversy about ordering a frappe

At Tabers, Dan explains the difference. “A shake has no ice cream in it. It is simply made from milk. If you want something with ice cream in it, then you need to order a frappe.” For simplicity sake, Dan agreed that a frappe is a shake with ice cream in it. At Dairy Joy, it is a bit different. “We sell shakes only. Frappes are made with milk and hard serve. Since we use only soft serve that is partially frozen, we make a thick soft serve shake,” emphasized Keene. “You won’t get frappes at Dairy Joy.”

Staff is like family – some over generations

Tabers has a seasonal staff of 35 employees, mostly part-timers, who dish out the ice cream treats along with a menu that includes burgers, fries, and other lunch and dinner choices. Many employees return every year to their jobs whether through high school, college years, or beyond.

“We even have generations of employees where someone’s mother once worked here,” said Hargreaves. “We have three employees who are 30year veterans.” Employees can work there as young as 14 years of age, with the appropriate worker permit. While Keene can hire staff as young as 14, she tends to hire 15 year olds only on the recommendation of family, friends, and other employees. Most staff are age 16 and older. “We usually have about 30 girls working here,” said Keene. When asked if there are any boys on staff, she said, “We have hired boys but they usually don’t fit in well.”

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Dairy Joy employees enjoy the fruits of their labor 32


By Dan Marois | Photography by Lauryn Hottinger | Ice Cream in LA

Experimenting with the new

“The weather,” Keene and Hargreaves said. “Good weather brings out the customers and bad weather keeps them away.”

While there are ‘tried and true’ products at each shop, the ice cream entrepreneurs are always looking for new products.

Visit one of these iconic ice cream locations:

“We often hear from our employees and customers who suggest new items for us,” said Dan. Ellen added, “We get lots of suggestions and if we like it, then usually everybody likes it.”

Dairy Joy 137 Spring Street, Auburn

A popular favorite rolled out at Tabers in 2015 is a fried Oreo sundae.

Dairy Joy 109 Campus Avenue, Lewiston

“It is a scoop of ice cream covered with hot fudge and whipped cream,” said Dan. “It also includes two balls of deep fried batter with Oreo cookie filling inside.” At Dairy Joy, Keene said that they are rolling out a Flavor of the Month to show off the range of frozen treats available.

Tabers 470 Lake Shore Drive, Auburn

Used with permission:

Fielder’s Choice 680 Minot Avenue, Auburn

“We are also considering brownie sundaes with a fresh baked brownie and fresh chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.” She said that employees “can eat whatever they want while working,” and they like to experiment new items on their own. Though innovation is welcomed, these ice cream shops rely very much on their collective history to drive business. While looking at the building that hasn’t changed much in the past decades, Hargreaves said that is exactly the way he likes it. “Customers come here and like the tradition and connection to the past,” said the young father, as he was busy watching four-year-old daughter, Penelope, playing nearby. “It is a happy place and we like to keep our customers happy.” “People like the ice cream shop type of experience that feels like Happy Days,” said Keene referring to the hit television series centered around a 1950s diner. “There’s no drive-through window; you get in line and meet old friends and acquaintances.” When asked if there are any fears or worries about the 2017 ice cream season, the answers are identical. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @


America loves ICE CREAM! • Vanilla is the most popular flavor in the U.S. • 87% of Americans have ice cream in their freezer right now. • A cow gives enough milk to make 2 gallons of ice cream per day. • It takes 3 gallons of milk to make 1 gallon of ice cream. • About 9% of all milk produced in the U.S. is used to make ice cream.



By Dan Marois | Photography by Lauryn Hottinger | Ice Cream in LA

Fielder’s Choice: New Kid on the Ice Cream Block Year-round ice cream

With a location in Sabattus celebrating its 12th season this year, Fielder’s Choice opened its Minot Avenue location in Auburn in 2016. “We have roughly 30 flavors of hard serve including five sugar-free options and one dairyfree option to offer something for everyone,” said Josh Jillson, manager of the Old Orchard Beach shop and son of owners, Mike and Sue Jillson. “All of our ice cream is homemade right on the premises at each of our locations.” “We had so much success with our first three shops in Sabattus, Manchester, and Old Orchard Beach, we wanted to open in Auburn where we could offer indoor seating and ordering. The indoor seating is what lead Fielder’s Choice to be open year-round at that site. “We wanted to test the demand for ice cream in the winter. Shops are typically seasonal which is something that we wanted to challenge,” said Jillson. “We figured, at the very least, it would be popular with those who were already familiar with our ice cream but we also hoped to earn some new business by being the only place around serving ice cream while the snow banks are piling up.” And what’s the most popular flavor at the area’s newest year-round location? “It is definitely Coffee Oreo.”

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Lewiston Public Library Director


LA’s most mild-mannered radical activist wields the power of information


By Toby Haber-Giasson

hen Rick Speer sits behind his desk in his top-floor office at the Lewiston Public Library (LPL), he looks upon a series of photos of Mount Katahdin and its rare yet native plants. These vistas have served as a sweet diversion during the busy days that have comprised Rick’s 33 years as LPL’s Director. As Speer unravels himself from his layered civic involvement in the city’s very fabric, he sets his sights on Maine’s natural landscape, which drew him here many years ago.

Ringing tributes

Upon the occasion of his retirement after 33 years as the library’s beloved director, colleagues both within and be-

Toby Haber-Giasson photo



yond the library offered heartfelt tributes. Anne Kemper, a Library Board Trustee, credits Speer’s leadership with transforming the 1903 Carnegie library into “an amazing 21st century learning space” equipped for the needs of the future. Indeed, Speer was instrumental in developing its reach with relevant programming, technical infrastructure and specialized personnel. Kemper extols the library’s extraordinary staff, which exemplifies Speer’s ability to create a “culture of civility and forward thinking.” Working with Speer over the years inspired Jan Philips, former Chair of the library’s Trustees, to liken him to…

By Toby Haber-Giasson | Rick Speer

David J. Gudas photo

David J. Gudas photo

A star-studded retirement party

Affirmation from Peggy Rotundo, Nate Libby, Speer and Margaret Craven

the Sun. In her astronomical analogy, Speer is LPL’s source of energy and light around which the staff and the board have orbited. An endowment created in his honor had already garnered more than $6,000.

Perhaps Rick’s high school yearbook might tell us he was a track star; we might find a photo of this quarterback of the football team. Or it might tell us what few in LA know: Speer attended West Point. That’s the U.S. Military Academy, at West Point.

Lewiston’s City Administrator, Ed Barrett, another longtime colleague, recognized Speer’s ability to adapt to change in And then, as Speer’s daughter Kate put it, “It took books an age when libraries, as a social to change that path, in particular, institution, have had to evolve. Jerry Rubin’s classic revolutionary He pronounced Speer’s longbook (DO IT!: Scenarios of the “A mentor inspired me to see term legacy to be the partnerRevolution), which questioned that libraries should be both ships he formed with the school the Vietnam war, and had my dad committee, other institutions of questioning what he was doing at a center and a tool for the higher education, and local arts a military school.“ Another influencommunity.” and cultural institutions. Speer’s tial book for Speer was The Truminfluence, he said, is now “in the pet of Conscience, a collection of Rick Speer DNA” of the library’s culture. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s influential lectures on equality and war. Somehow, this self-described introvert has achieved this rockstar luminary status with a “I walked in thinking we needed to stop Communism, and light touch. Sue Charron will miss weekly administrative walked out questioning what we were doing in Vietnam.” meetings with Speer, a fellow department head. As LewisThe printed word has spoken to something inside of him. ton’s Director of Social Services, she has seen Rick achieve “I couldn’t do it; I had to resign.” his goals by plying his wry sense of humor. “He’s a great asset to the city,” she notes. A new path Speer reinvented himself 1900’s How does such a humca cir y, rar as a mathematics major Lib gie Carne ble visionary emerge? at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, but somehow Beginnings Calculus didn’t look as interIndeed, how does a esting as his roommate’s man who grew up in a library science program. blue-collar town outside And then, inspiration. Pittsburgh- one that prizes sports and steel“I took one course and become a librarian? A ran into a mentor who radical activist librarian, changed my life,” Speer who champions the disrecalls of Joe Blake, a enfranchised? professor in Educational Media. “He loved people Speer is reluctant to and culture; he believed in power of information and what it could do for people.” reveal himself- fully. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @


Many LPL programs support teens and new Mainers

Speer changed course and never looked back. Speer became intrigued with public library work while volunteering at a busy reference desk in Lancaster County. Back in those pre-internet days, this was the go-to place for information. By shadowing two masters-level librarians, he learned all about reference and information services. At college, Speer met another mentor: Jeanne Feight. This progressive librarian hailed from San Francisco, home of the Bay Area Social Responsibilities Roundtable, which promoted the power of libraries for empowering grass roots organizations.

resume already featured a few director-level positions at small libraries (including a Bookmobile operation, but that’s a whole other story). Judy’s mother found a Maine job opening advertised in the Sun Journal and sent it to Rick by snail mail. He handily garnered the position as Director of the Lewiston Public Library in 1984, and the Speers moved to Maine. The transition was not seamless. Speer is careful to acknowledge Judy’s professional sacrifice for his success; she faced difficulty finding a local position comparable to her role in Cleveland. She struggled for several years before landing her current position as Director of Library Services at Central Maine Community College in 1999.

“She inspired me to see that libraries should be both a center and a tool for the community. We should reach out to partners - not just those with power, but to those who lack power, and provide them with the resources to allow them to achieve their goals,” says Speer. “I‘m always attuned to opportunities to empower people; information is power.”

Coming to Maine

Rick Speer met his future wife at a professional conference in 1981. Judith Frost was a member of the Art Library Society of North America, working as a librarian at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Because her family lived in Gardiner, Maine, Speer visited the state. As he fell for Judy’s beauty, he fell in love with Maine’s natural beauty. When the two became a couple, the prospect of settling down in Cleveland just didn’t sizzle. By that time, Speer’s 42


Rick with his daughter, Kate and his wife, Judy. Toby Haber-Giasson photo

By Dan Marois | Photography byBy Lauryn | Ice Cream in LA Toby Hottinger Haber-Giasson | Rick Speer

Lewiston Public Library partners with L/A Arts and the Bates Dance Festival Pictured here is Rick’s daughter, Kate, performing in Borderlandia Bailey Anderson photo

Collaborating for empowerment

Creating empowerment opportunities at LPL has been Speer’s personal mission: to connect the community by providing the facility and information resources. Right from the start, Speer noticed LA’s high level of social capital in its social agencies and many talented individuals. “I discovered an amazing amount of collaboration and cross-communication.” Keen to provide opportunities, Speer capitalized upon these assets by partnering for civic benefit. “I would see ways the library could support organizations.” Here’s just one recent example. “When St. Mary’s Nutrition Center studied food insecurity issues (in 2013), we hosted their gatherings. We worked as part of the Downtown Education Collaborative, driven by Lewiston Auburn College service learning and Bates College’s Harward Center for Community Partnerships.” Another opportunity arose to partner with L/A Arts and the Bates Dance Festival. New York choreographer Doug Varone was commissioned to create a dance about Lewiston’s textile mill heritage. L/A Arts and LPL invited former mill workers to bring artifacts, musical instruments, and family stories to a community sharing session with Varone. “In the end, not everyone understood the final dance,” Speer smiles wryly, “but that night of sharing was amazing.”

Welcoming the newcomers

Whereas some in Lewiston saw the influx of African immigrants in the early 2000’s as a burden, Speer saw more opportunities. LPL became the perfect laboratory to foster empowerment for this influx of new Mainers over the last 15 years. Speer made this analogy: “We were able to experience the same thrill Marsden Hartley did in the late 1800s with the Franco invasion: new languages, new colors, new culture.” An historical perspective reminds us that such shameful prejudice should never be repeated. “All of us on the staff feel good about making the library a welcoming place for everyone. To allow people to achieve their dreams of education and integration was a whole new facet.” Ed Barrett called today’s LPL “a gathering place where we can integrate the newcomers into society.” Under Speer’s direction, LPL became a ‘safe place’ for kids and teens in the downtown neighborhood. He received a grant from the Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation to hire two workers from the Somali community, to focus on families and connect to the new-Mainer community. In 2004, Speer received a New York Times Librarian Award, in recognition of the initial service LPL provided to the immigrant community, making it a welcoming place and offering English language-learning materials for beginners. Perhaps Speer should receive an award every year, for conLA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @


tinuing to fulfill his personal mission to serve the community in whatever way is needed.

Art of the deal

Although expansion of the library was in the works well before Rick was offered his position in 1984, it took over a decade to be accomplished. The near-tripling of the facility’s size was full of twists, turns, and sheer luck. Speer credits Al Gamache, a former chair of the library’s board, for starting the ball rolling, and Lucien Gosselin, then City Administrator, for having the fortitude to ask the council to get an architect to look at some possibilities back in 1988. Speer and the Board developed a facility program with conference rooms and meeting halls, so LPL could become a true community center. But there was frustration. The initial plan hit a bump with an economic downturn in 1990 and it was clear it would not get funded. At the same time, the Auburn Public Library began talking about its facility needs. A joint study committee was assembled, and even went through two iterations over four years. Says Speer, “We joked about building an island in the river for it.” The next thought was to purchase the vacant Pilsbury Building that sat behind the 1903 Carnegie library building and connect them. That idea withstood a 1992 feasibility study, and won approval in 1994. Unsurprisingly, Phase 1 Toby Haber-Giasson bids were overphoto budget. “That’s how I learned about ‘value engineering,’” Speer notes wryly. “We came up with a plan we could afford, although it left two sections unbuilt.” The cultural center and archives would have to wait. The Friends of the Library, a non-profit fundraising organization, were stalwart supporters of LPL. But when they were asked to raise $1 million they protested, “We just do bake sales!” Board Chair Steve Kottler identified individuals for a fundraising group to work within the Friends structure. These included attorney John Bonneau, Jan Phillips and Anne Harward (wife of Bates College President, Don Harward). Speer jokingly refers to this transfer of power the “bloodless coup,” as the original Friends willingly stepped aside. The first phase was completed in 1997 and the second, funded by the Friends of LPL, was completed in 2000. Phase 3 of the project may never have happened without Larry Raymond, an attorney whose client, John Callahan, was looking for places to put resources from his estate. Raymond, then Chair of the Library Board, steered him toward LPL. In 2005, the Library completed its Marsden Hartley Cultural Center, which includes a computer lab, historical archives, and Callahan Hall, a performance and meeting space named for its generous donor.

Technology revolution 44


Technology was already in the plan for expansion, albeit in primitive stages. “We had the Readers Guide on CD Rom,” Speer notes, “and networked CD drives to do inhouse database searches.” But no one yet knew how the world wide web would change everything. In 1990, LPL staffer Karen Jones came back from a librarians’ conference in Atlanta and said, “Rick, we have got to learn about the internet- that’s all they talked about.” Speer started doing some research. With a few colleagues, he formed the Androscoggin Valley Community Network (AVCNet), including Rob Spellman, head of Information Services at Bates, Roger Fuller at Oak Hill High School (now a state representative), Jim Hart at the Auburn School department, and Bruce Hall from the Lewiston School department. Back then, only colleges, universities and government agencies had access to the internet. AVCNet pulled together a local computer bulletin board system that dialed in to Bates everyday for the updated feed. Spellman was willing to share news groups and email through the Bates’ system. For its time, this service was nothing short of revolutionary. Speer boasts, “We set up our own email domain, and we had six different bulletin board systems. Before anyone heard of an ISP, we were offering email free of charge in LA. I’ll never forget that.” During Speer’s tenure, access has grown to 64 computer stations, plus mobile devices, free wi-fi, and a crack staff which provides technical support.

New role for today’s library

Before the internet, there was the Reference Desk. Speer reminisces about his days in the research trenches. ”Our ‘bibles’ were the U.S. Government Manuals and the Directory of Associations. We were always on the phone with senators’ offices in Washington or various national organizations.” Now, if we can just “google it,” why do we need the library? Speer points out that it takes a true professional to show people the nuances of research. His talented librarians are adept at identifying ‘fake news,’ and navigating high-end databases for full-text journal and magazine articles. Speer boasts, “They provide lots of added value.” One loss is another kind of gain. While LPL book circulation is dropping for print books, use of downloadable books is expanding. Your library card gets you e-books or e-audiobooks on your Kindle or iPhone. Many families still rely on LPL’s work with partners like Promise Early Education Center (nee Headstart) and Advocates for Children to support their preschool reading needs. In addition, an LL Bean grant was used to initiate

By Toby Haber-Giasson | Rick Speer

Toby Haber-Giasson photo

In 2005, LPL named Phase 3 part of the library the Marsden Hartley Cultural Center, after the Modernist painter from Lewiston. Phil Isaacson, art critic and collector and library board member told Robert Indiana about it. Indiana had always felt a spiritual kinship to Hartley. He was so moved that he gave LPL an original print from his series, “The Hartley Elegies.” This piece plays off images from Hartley’s work from 1914 series called the “German Officer” paintings.

the BookReach program, supplying 40+ volunteers with books to read and leave behind at home daycares. So here’s what’s new. In the last 5-year plan, LPL identified two areas of need: to support teens, and to help the refugee and immigrant community integrate into American life. LPL is supporting teens academically with technology and STEM support, including work with circuits, programming, and robotics. Minecraft is very popular here. LPL is also developing a makerspace with circuitry and 3D printers, in addition to expanding teen collections of books, music and video, and graphic novels. LPL supports English Language Learning and workforce development, by working with partners like Lewiston Adult Education and Literacy Volunteers. They also provide tech support to users in these communities by providing devices, wi-fi and plenty of handholding.


An avid outdoorsman, canoeist, backpacker, and amateur botanist, Rick Speer already has plans for how to spend his upcoming leisure time.

“I love to get into the woods on canoe and camping trips with friends. I’ve always loved beautiful landscapes,” he declares. He’s hiked the entire AT in Maine, and in Baxter State Park, and he just joined the Maine Outdoor Adventure Club. He credits Susan Hayward, the Stanton Bird Club’s environmental educator, for this latent passion for botany. “Susan did so much for the community,” he notes, “by revitalizing the Thorncrag Sanctuary.” When Speer took a wildflower course with this consummate naturalist through Lewiston Adult Education, he became inspired to serve as a plant conservation volunteer with the New England Wildflower Society and to join the Josselyn Botanical Society. “Being in wild Maine looking for rare plants is one of my passions.” Besides his love of books, Rick is a devoted music fan who can often be found at Guthrie’s on a Friday night. “People look at me as this cultured person,” Speer demurs, “but I’m just a rock’n’roller in a time warp.” The Speers also dabble in dance, the art form of choice for their daughter, Kate. Now based in Denver, Kate writes arts grants and develops conceptual modern dance. Her new piece, “Borderlandia,” which received rave reviews, LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @


was named by 5280 Magazine as one of the 4 coolest things to do in Denver this month.

Speer’s retirement party was like a primer for Who’s Who in LA, attended by a diverse group of over 100 friends and collaborators. Large helpings of praise and proclamations were served.

Sweet sorrow

In retrospect, Speer is certain Lewiston can be proud of its library. “We’ve done a good job of serving all segments of the community, and we have a lot to offer.” What is he most proud of, as he retires? “We’ve positioned ourselves quite well to be a true community center, where people can come together face to face, interact, learn and discuss.”

True to form, Speer flipped all the hyperbolic tributes into a humble expression of his gratitude for these opportunities to serve: “This community, its people, its art, literature, music-- so much that brings us soaring in life-- I got to play around with all these years. Thank YOU.”

“This community, its people, its art, literature, music-- so much that brings us soaring in life-- I got to play around with all these years. Thank YOU.” Rick Speer

Toby Haber-Giasson photo



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The Healing Power of HOPE The 3rd Annual Summer Block Party hopes to grant 7 Wishes


By David Muise | Photography by Lauryn Hottinger

n August 12, 2017, the Summer Block Party to benefit the Make-A-Wish Maine will kick off outside at Mac’s Grill in Auburn. The third annual event will feature lots of family entertainment, but according to Make-A-Wish Maine’s Executive Director, Alex Gaeth, the most important thing happening will be... exercising? “Wish granting is about exercising the muscle of possibility,” says Gaeth. “Each donor, each volunteer, each child who has a wish granted, really the entire village of people it takes to make a wish happen is exercising and strengthening that muscle of possibility.”



There is a level of personal growth, of awareness and connection that happens in the process of granting a wish, explains Gaeth. As a donor, a wish granter, a volunteer, or an attendee of a fundraising event, people are forming community and seeing the impact that a wish can have firsthand. Their ability to help grows, their understanding of the importance widens and awareness of the importance of this work swells. This is the “muscle of possibility” of which Gaeth speaks. The possibilities of what can happen often extend far beyond even the wish itself. Gaeth explains that for a child with a life threatening illness the concept that their greatest wish is coming true encourages them to ask, “what else can happen?” That question is really at the heart of the work Make-A-Wish does.

By David Muise | Photography by Lauryn Hottinger | Wishing for Joy “89% of health professionals say a wish has significant impact on health outcomes,” explains Gaeth. “We actually have an oncologist on our board who prescribes a wish as part of his treatment plan.”

Kinzie’s “Kitchen Sink”

Kinzie Frey was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma at the age of 6. This is a rare disease usually found in children five years of age and under. It’s a type of cancer that affects the adrenal glands. The “high risk” version requires what Kinzie’s mom, Holly Bosse, describes as the “kitchen sink” treatment approach. “Kinzie has had chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, a marrow transplant, radiation and 188 blood platelet transplants,” says Bosse. “It’s far more than you’d ever hope to see your child go through.”

ing because of the pain. The nurse was so apologetic, but Kinzie said, ‘You’re not hurting me, you’re helping me’.” Kinzie’s diagnosis has affected her entire family. Bosse and her husband have two grown children plus five others under the age of 15. Bosse describes the toll a life threatening illness can have on a family of that size. “I was away from home probably 60% of the year and a half Kinzie was receiving treatment. We’d either be in Boston or Portland and I would stay overnight with Kinzie,” explains Bosse. “Meanwhile we’ve got 5 boys in various sports and my husband is working, plus I work part time,” says Bosse. “It’s been an incredibly difficult process and what Make-AWish did for us felt like the entire family had been granted a wish.”

Through it all, Kinzie has maintained an attitude of care and understanding that show an unusual level of maturity for a child of her age. Her mother explains that, “She has an old soul.” “The neuroblastoma and the treatment can be incredibly painful; even just picking her up could cause severe pain,” says Bosse. “There was one time when a nurse had to pick her up and she was cry-

Prescription: WISH


Make-A-Wish got in touch with the Bosse family in 2016 after learning of Kinzie’s diagnosis. Volunteer wish granters went to visit, with the goal of helping Kinzie decide what her greatest wish in the world would be. It wasn’t hard for her to decide. “So there’s two things,” explains Bosse. “First, Kinzie’s step-sister has pictures

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on her wall of swimming with dolphins. Kinzie has always wanted to do that. Second, is that Kinzie had what’s called a central line surgically installed. Unlike a port, you cannot take a shower or sit in a bathtub. She was literally away from water for almost a year.” Bosse credits the motivation of the pictures, coupled with Kinzie’s desire to go swimming, with leading Kinzie to choose Swimming with Dolphins as her wish. The folks at Make-A-Wish Maine got on the case and began working behind the scenes to make it happen. The Make-A-Wish team provides a completely paid-for wish experience. They set about planning air travel, Swimming with Dolphins, plus SeaWorld and Disney visits for the entire family.



“It was the first time since Kinzie’s diagnosis that we would all be together- all nine of us,” explains Bosse. “We definitely could not have pulled this off ourselves.” But, something dreadful happened in October of 2016, shortly before the family was scheduled to leave for the fulfillment of Kinzie’s Wish. “Kinzie went in for her third round of antibody treatment. It’s a painful, awful treatment,” says Bosse. “She got really sick afterwards. She was in the ICU. It wasn’t getting better. “She was on breathing support and things didn’t feel right,” says Bosse. “I stayed next to her and kept reminding her that she hadn’t yet gotten her wish. I’d say, ‘Kinzie, you’ve still got your wish’.”

By David Muise | Photography by Lauryn Hottinger | Wishing for Joy

NED: three letters, countless joys

Kinzie’s eventual recovery can be attributed to many things- the support and care of the hospital staff, her verve, the constant presence of her family, the prayers she received. What can’t be ruled out is the prescription of a wish.

“Ben’s treatment regime is intense and demanding,” says Chasse. “Every morning at breakfast and every night after dinner he takes a variety of medications and vitamins followed by a half hour of nebulizer treatment and his vest therapy.” Taking a handful of pills, wearing a mask for a half hour and donning a vibrating vest twice a day is a lot to ask of anybody, let alone an infant. Administering that treatment takes its toll as well. Turns out, Chasse has some great help. “Tommy is my right-hand man,” says Chasse of Ben’s big brother. “He’s such a big help with Ben. I mean, he helps with the treatments but he’s also there entertaining Ben while he’s forced to be on the nebulizer and wearing the vest.”

“A wish has incredible impact before, during and after,” says Make-A-Wish’s Gaeth. “We’ve found that Wish kids feel stronger and more energetic, that they are more willing to comply with difficult treatments, and that they often describe the wish as a turning point in their treatments.” The Bosse family flew to Orlandoall nine of them- where they spent four days together rallying around Kinzie and each other. The entire trip was paid for, including spending money, by Make-A-Wish. “For us as parents, it was everything we wanted it to be,” says Bosse. “For Kinzie it might have been a life saver.”

Make-A-Wish learned of Ben’s diagnosis and contacted the family to schedule a visit. Two volunteer wish granters showed up to ask Ben what his greatest wish would be. While their hope was that granting a wish would offer some reprieve from Ben’s difficult treatment plan, what they didn’t know is that Ben’s Wish might have proven to be the greatest therapy of all.

“When we first met Ben, he was 3 years old. We went in thinking he would want to go to Disney because he was so young and we weren’t sure what else he would come up with,” says volunteer Wish “89% of health professionals Granter Miranda Sepulveda. “Because Ben was working on a say a Wish has significant speech impediment, we learned impact on health outcomes.” through his brother that what he really wanted was a Pirate Playground.” Alex Gaeth, Executive Director

at Make-A-Wish Maine

Kinzie is off treatment now. She has had two scans, each of which came back with that magical acronym everyone suffering from any type of cancer hopes for: NED- No Evidence of Disease.

A playground. It’s not an unexpected wish from a young person, but offered the choice, you might assume a child would choose something on a

She played basketball this winter and is now starting softball. Her mother reports that she is begging to do karate as well. Who would have thought this would be possible a year and half ago? Well, a growing community of wish granters are striving to make it possible for every single kid suffering from a life threatening illness.

“Ben was diagnosed at 9 days old”

Jennifer Chasse first learned of her son, Ben’s, illness when he was just 9 days old. It was then that he aspirated on his own vomit and was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a disease for which there is no known cure and that comes with a lifetime of treatment and possible complications. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @


By David Muise | Photography by Lauryn Hottinger | Wishing for Joy more grand scale. It is fortuitous that Ben made this choice though, as this playground would turn out to be a significant turning point in Ben’s treatment.

Wish therapy

“With cystic fibrosis, it’s really important that kids stay active,” says Chasse. “Physical activities help to loosen the mucus that builds up in Ben’s lungs.” Physical activity can be hard to come by when a child spends so much time attached to their treatment plans. Ben’s playground is a motivator, a draw for him to the outdoors and to physical activity.

Ben’s playground has had a wide impact. His mom points out that it is a constant bridge between her two sons, that the relationship between the brothers has been further strengthened as they share play together and as Tommy continues to be an instrument of service for his brother.

“We, as wish granters, have the power to help kids forget about doctors, diagnoses, medicine, and all the other things that come with life threatening illnesses.” Miranda Sepulveda, Volunteer Wish Granter

“When I get out of bed, I go play outside,” says Ben. “My playset is my favorite.”

The impact of wishes is most assuredly wide, reaching all those engaged in the process. Gaeth explains that there is a tremendous ripple effect throughout the community, “Certainly the wish kid and his family feel it, but it’s also the volunteers, the donors, really everyone shares in this experience.”

“Volunteering with MakeA-Wish is one of the most rewarding experiences,” says Sepulveda. “We, as wish granters, have the power to help kids forget about



JOY 56


doctors, diagnoses, medicine, and all the other things that come with life threatening illnesses. We help them focus on what makes them happy. The wish helps them to just be kids again.” Sepulveda mentions having power. This is a sentiment echoed by Gaeth. He likes to talk about the “acceptance of power.” What he’s saying is that all those who choose to be a part of the wish process are accepting their ability, their own power to change lives. While the role of health care professionals cannot be understated, it’s important to for us all to remember that we also have power, the power to be a part of something bigger than all of us, the power to bring lasting change to the life a child. In Ben’s case, that is the power of Wish Therapy.

The 3rd Annual Summer Block Party takes place on Saturday, August 12, 2017.

Party hearty!

The Summer Block Party was created three years ago as a celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Uncle Andy’s Digest. The event doubled as a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Maine. In its first two years, the event raised $52,000, enough to grant seven wishes. This year the organizers are aiming to raise that much in a single day. This is your chance to get involved, to “accept the power” of the change you can make. Attending the 3rd Annual Summer Block Party will be a great way to connect with your community, to share in a wide variety of family friendly activities and to support Make-A-Wish Maine. “We currently grant a wish every five days in Maine,” says Gaeth. “These fundraisers are vital to our ability to grow and to meet our goal of being able to grant a wish every four days. And, with our eventual goal of granting wishes to every single child diagnosed with life-threatening illness in the state of Maine.”

Join them for a fabulous outdoor event including three live bands, silent auction, kid zone, dunk tank, food & beer garden and more. All proceeds from the event benefit Make-A-Wish Maine, which is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. More details can be found at and at

“Granting a wish to every single child suffering from a life threatening illness”. That’s a statement filled with power. And, it starts with a party. Who’s in?

Years of Maine Wishes

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Lewiston-Auburn World Refugee Day Thursday, June 29 from 5-7:30pm Simard-Payne Memorial Park, Lewiston

A time to celebrate the rich cultures of LA By Toby Haber-Giasson


orld Refugee Day (WRD) is a time for our community to celebrate the rich cultures of Lewiston and Auburn. LA Metro Magazine joins with all our LA neighbors for a community-wide event complete with international food, music, activities and conversation. This 2nd annual celebration will begin with a flag ceremony recognizing 30 home countries from which New Mainers have come. Local celebrities will host the festivities. There will be official words from Lewiston Mayor Robert MacDonald, Auburn City Councilor James Pross, and Phil Nadeau, Deputy City Administrator. Refugees will share their stories through words and poems, in the amphitheater. And there will be music, games for kids, and fabulous food.

For kids

There will be lots to keep kids busy. Face-painting and giant bubbles will delight little ones. The Root Cellar will run minute-to-win-it challenges and soccer scrimmages on the field. WRD will also offer henna tattoos, storytelling, and art activities including quilt-making. 60


By Toby Haber-Giasson | World Refugee Day

Taste of Africa

Authentic African crafts will be on display. Watch a basket-making demonstration, or see food demos from Somalia and Congo. Exotic delicacies will be offered free from 10 countries: Angola, Burundi, Congo, Djubuti, Iraq, Jordan, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.

Share the experience

The centerpiece of WRD will be a refugee simulation called “Far From Home.” Auburn UU Theater has developed this outdoor, active experience, to give participants a taste of the fear and uncertainty refugees face. “Far From Home” (based on Catholic Charities’ “In Their Shoes”) offers a compelling perspective on the difficult path of a refugee. The goal is to foster greater understanding between neighbors, and appreciate what it means for these newcomers just to be out of danger. Every day, new Mainers arrive at our doorstep bereft of close relatives, friends, country and material possessions. Yet they remain hopeful for a better future.

Many sponsors

“This will be our biggest and best event in honor of refugees worldwide, especially with the refugee simulation, which is quite an experience,” says Fatuma Hussein, Executive Director of Immigrant Resource Center of Maine. Other organizers and sponsors include Bates College, Catholic Charities Maine, the Cities of Lewiston and Auburn, Community Concepts, Health Affiliates Maine, L/A Arts, Lewiston Public Schools, the Root Cellar, Spurwink Services, and countless community members who donate their time and money. These groups invite you to join in lifting up our refugee neighbors by honoring the courage and struggles of the more than 15 million refugees worldwide displaced by war and persecution.


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The Fortin Group

217 Turner St. Auburn, ME 04210 207-783-8545 70 Horton St. Lewiston, ME 04240 207-784-4584


LA METRO MAGAZINE | JUNE 2017 Supporting the rising professionals of Lewiston Auburn.

40 UNDER 40


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Molly F. McGill

building LA

Senior Writer at The Brand Collective Molly McGill was raised in Auburn, then travelled and returned to Auburn. The time between brought her on quite a journey. “I moved to Vermont to attend college,” said the Senior Writer at The Brand Collective, a boutique marketing firm new to the LA scene. “From there, I moved to Thailand where I ran an architectural, design, and luxury lifestyle magazine that spanned the Asia-Pacific region. In 2008, I moved back to Maine to be close to my mother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, never thinking I’d return to my ‘hometown.” McGill remarks that she and her husband began to form roots in LA and when the opportunity to move away came up, they happily declined. “This was now our community. This was now home.” McGill admits that she has been a storyteller since birth and a professional writer all of her career. “Although I can’t pinpoint the exact moment my career started, some may

Michael Malloy

Attorney, The Malloy Firm Michael Malloy has an undergraduate degree with a double major in French and International Politics and Economics. “I first wanted to do something around international relations. My first job out of college was in immigration law, representing U.S. employers of foreign nationals, and helping to assist victims of persecution. I got to use my language skills, and saw a way to make a living while also helping the most vulnerable,” said the Auburn resident who lives with “an amazing wife and two gorgeous kids.” “That led me to law school, and my interests grew to include broader business and municipal interests, but always with a strong desire to help bring people together.”

argue that it was when, as a young child, I wrote my own novella based on the story “The Secret Garden,” said McGill, who remembers that her story was entirely ripped off from the original. “However, it was that spark into the world of writing that forever stuck with me.” McGill said that it is the people in the LA Metro area that inspire her to live and work here. “There are dedicated, passionate people working in all capacities to make L-A as great as it has the potential to be,” said McGill. “It’s getting swept up in that enthusiasm and passion that really lights my fire.”

building LA Malloy cites one special moment in his work, that happened several years ago, where he helped a victim of politically motivated torture start a new life in the local community. “We were able to bring his family here as well,” said Malloy. “Where once they feared for their lives, they have a fresh start here in Maine.” Initially, it was work that brought Malloy to LA. “I was recruited by a local law firm several years ago. Even though it was in the depths of the recession, jobs were scarce, and I had a family to support and huge student loans to repay, it was one of the best things to ever happen to me,” reflects Malloy. “I ended up finding the community where I want to spend the rest of my life.”

Fishing the Androscoggin


Cross Country skiing with his daughter


Tricia Tomlinson

Owner and General Manager of Ben’s Burritos Tricia Tomlinson sees a perfect fit between anthropology and food. “I am a foodie with a background in anthropology. It’s a good mesh,” said Tomlinson, whose Mexican eatery is known to run a special called the Don Ho, a 12-inch burrito filled with carnitas pork, pineapple salsa, rice, cheese and poblano creama. “I have lived in the area my whole life and I got started with a passion for cooking and a general interest in public service.” Tomlinson said that her restaurant has a “pay it forward” board which provides meals for people that may not be able to afford eating out.

building LA to break out from traditional development models for housing and she supports more integration of services for the immigrant population. When she goes out to eat, Tomlinson doesn’t travel far, preferring nearby Mother India. “They are our neighbors and we have been eating there for years. The owners are kind and hard- working and present an always fresh and healthy product.” As for her thoughts for the future, Tomlinson envisioned, “Working at my restaurant part-time and traveling the world with my children. Maybe Greece, Africa, and Europe.”

“It is an equalizer for our community,” she said. “Everyone gets to eat out.” On the diversity in LA, she said, “I am so very grateful for the intergenerational community, the arts, music, and a general sense of pride for our city.” She does see a need

Misty Parker

Economic Development Specialist at the City of Lewiston The LA area has so much potential when seen through the eyes of Misty Parker. “Through my role with the city, I am focused on downtown redevelopment, workforce development initiatives, and supporting business owners to establish and expand in the city,” said Parker. “Additionally, I work with developers to help structure public and private partnerships to help build their projects.” She’s always been interested in land use planning, working for several years in the Mid-Coast area. “I grew to enjoy working with the business community, identifying problems or barriers they experienced, and helping them find ways to overcome those challenges to meet their goals.

iday with

Scotch Fr friends

building LA Small businesses are the backbone of Maine’s economy, and to me it’s very exciting to be in a role charged with helping them grow and succeed.” She admits that she’s always had an interest in downtown areas, the heart and soul of towns and cities. “The work I do is a perfect marriage of my land use planning background and interest in supporting small businesses and vibrant downtowns. Lewiston has a gorgeous downtown with some amazing businesses. I feel lucky to help play a role in unlocking the potential here.” Describing her own residence, she said, “My husband and I live in a farming neighborhood. I have a large garden that I enjoy caring for and last year I started beekeeping. I enjoy knowing more about these fascinating insects. When not enjoying our little farm, I love kayaking, swimming, fishing, hiking, and camping.”

Misty and her husband Brendan

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Tom Ardia

Bar Manager, Marché Tom Ardia’s job is to create an experience from behind the bar at Marche.

likes of Fuel, Orchid, DaVinci’s, Fish Bones and Rails but can’t always make the time.

“I create cocktail menus, bring in great craft beer and wine and make sure my guests have a pleasant experience,” said Ardia. “I’m constantly learning how to be a better bartender and being a part of the United States Bartenders Guild has been a big part of doing a better job with guests and creativity.”

“It can be hard because I usually work similar hours to all of these places,” said Ardia.

“I started at Ground Round in Auburn back in 1995. I would hang out there and one day they asked if I wanted a job,” said Ardia, reflecting how his career started. “As much as I like being behind the bar, I also like to visit new bars to eat and drink. I’m always interested in what other places are doing. He’s become hooked on the downtown Lewiston setting having worked at The Vault, Orchid and now Marche. He likes to frequent the

What he likes best about the LA scene is the potential that is starting to emerge in the area. “I feel big things can happen down here with the right ideas and support,” adds Ardia. “There is a lot of room in our cities to add different style bars and restaurants and I want to be a part of creating that culture locally.”

Alexandra Hood

creative genius

Art is in the eye of the beholder, especially for 22-year-old Alexandra Hood.

and watching my business grow. I have been on the LA Art Walk Committee since 2016 and I do live painting at a variety of arts events, participating wherever I can. I make my creative work widely accessible, which I like to think bridges a gap between a community and supporting local artists.”

Olin Arts Center Operations Supervisor, Bates College

At the Olin Arts Center at Bates College, she coordinates programs that involve art, music, and visual culture. The work finds her scheduling the community figure drawing sessions, creating posters for advertisement, promoting concerts, and scheduling event spaces, among many other duties.

Drawing live at my show for the LA Art Walk

In her other venture of making art her business she said, “My favorite part of being a freelance artist is proving myself by overcoming hurdles

Left: Graphite Drawing “Mrs. T, 100 Years Old” Bottom: Art installation at Forage Market for LA Art Walk


creative genius


Regarding her free time, Hood said, “When I’m not creating artwork for someone else, I’m creating it for myself. I love to sit outside and sketch trees with ballpoint pen for hours during the summer. I’m also involved with L/A Arts and the Union of Maine Visual Artists.” Hood believes that LA has a unique identity that needs local support to thrive. “The idea of the arts and art makers being embraced in our economy should be an active conversation. Instead of traveling to Portland or shopping at big box retailers, we should look at what our own community has to offer and help it flourish.”

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Danielle Eaton

Marketing & Public Relations Business Partner for Clinical Lines of Service, Spectrum Healthcare Partners Whether performing in the theatre or working in public relations, Danielle Eaton feels at home being center stage. “I started performing at L/A Community Little Theatre at 9 years old when my parents became exhausted by my nightly post-dinner song and dance routines. They saw an ad in the paper for auditions for the musical, Oliver and they dragged me down to the theatre,” said Eaton, who performed CLT’s 2016 production of All That Jazz. “Being a painfully shy and quiet child, my mother had to pry me from her leg and push me out onto that stage. But once I found the thrill of performing, I’ve been addicted ever since.”

creative genius I always said I wanted to be in a place where there were more people than pine trees,” said Eaton. After meeting her future husband while still in school, she moved back home. “We’ve now built our dream home, out in the woods, surrounded by many pine trees.” As for social life in LA, she said, “I cringe whenever someone complains that there’s nothing to do here because if you look, you’ll find more than you know what to do with.”

Eaton continues to perform at CLT, as well as with Out of the Box Theater, Lyric Music Theater and at the Thread Theater once a month at the Franco Center. “I grew up in LA going to school at Holy Cross and St. Dom’s. I moved to the city to earn my degree at Suffolk University in Boston.

Marlo Hewitt

Cosmetologist, Founder and Owner of Hair Station Marlo Hewitt’s mother and grandmother were cosmetologists, so it is no surprise that she was curious about the profession. “Once I starting doing friends hair in high school for fun, I discovered the creative freedom and artistic side of things and instantly knew it was for me,” said Hewitt who opened her own studio, Hair Station, in July of 2015. Prior to that, Hewitt earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Maine and worked a semester toward her master’s degree. “I soon discovered that sitting behind a desk wasn’t for me and I



Danielle with her husband, Nate; daughter, Amelia and their black lab, Harley

Danielle backstage with friend, Colleen Katana, during Lyric Music Theater’s production of “Spamalot”

creative genius set out to make my hairdressing passion a reality. I love making people feel beautiful and confident. When you feel confident you can conquer the world!” Hewitt admits that she has a passion for interior decorating and creative projects and she loves working on her house. This coming June, she is getting married and looks forward to many happy years raising a family. “I grew up in Mechanic Falls and have always traveled to Auburn and Lewiston for both work and play and when it came time to pick a community to buy my first home, Auburn seemed to be a perfect choice,” said Hewitt. “Once I settled into the city, it was an easy decision to set up shop for my business right down the road from my new home.” She says, “LA is a community that is large enough to serve all of our needs, but small enough to know one another.”

Shanna Cox

Founder and Principal Consultant, Project Tipping Point Shanna Cox helps bring about change. “I am passionate about collaborative approaches to making lasting change in the area,” said Cox who has volunteered for numerous causes and as a community developer helped support the work of Lewiston Unites, the New Mainer Community Collaborative, the development of the Community Partnership for Protecting Children, and the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative. “Healthy Neighborhoods is my favorite example of a diverse group of people dedicating time to thinking through how housing improvements could move the needle for neighborhoods and for LA as a whole. I also love the efforts of Trinity Jubilee, Promise, Center for Wisdom’s Women, Art Walk LA, and the arts.”

Facilitating a community transformation plan discussion.

Shanna and sons Devon, Deston and Tadon

economic development For many, Cox is best known for her efforts with the design and management of the TIP L/A Leadership Development Program, an effort working with local community leaders developing skills to lead collaboratively and accelerate change in LA. She also serves as president of Grow L+A, a non-profit dedicated to growing Lewiston and Auburn by promoting responsible development; development that is economically sound, sustainable, socially responsible, and supports a healthy community. Her “can do” attitude is contagious as her influence reaches all sectors of the area. “In a community with increased graduation rates, improved child outcomes, increased property values and a thriving downtown with cultural and retail options, I see myself supporting the expansion of the TIP L/A network, and integrating with other individuals in the community who are figuring out their own ways to contribute to a vibrant LA.”

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Travis Dow

Owner, Dow Media, LLC Travis Dow is an entrepreneur with multiple business ventures. “What I do is really simple. I help local businesses grow and succeed,” said the LA area native. In 2011, he started his first business, The Maine Home Show, and it has grown to become one of central Maine’s most well attended trade shows. “Exhibitors consider it to be one of the top three home shows in the State.” In 2012, he launched, an online resource of eateries where menus can be viewed. In 2014, Dow Media was formed. In addition to publishing Coupons in Maine, a local coupon magazine, the company assists companies with their marketing and promotions efforts.

economic development learning about the inner workings of their different businesses,” said Dow. “And then figuring out how to help them to be more successful.” As a self-proclaimed expert on the eating establishments in the area, where does Dow tend to eat? “My list of places is just too big!” admits Dow. “We are so lucky to have such a great mix of restaurants. Some of the best pizza around is in the Twin Cities. We’ve got the mom-and-pop diners, great sandwich shops, phenomenal Asian cuisine, burger joints and sports bars, drive-ins and other summer spots and upscale casual options. Eating in LA never gets boring.”

Travis and his wife, Kathy

“The best part of my job is all the people I meet and

Gabrielle Russell

Architect, Platz Associates As an architect, Gabrielle Russell helps design buildings. She’s also helping to design the future of LA. “I grew up in Auburn, left for college, and returned to the area after graduation. After seeing how much opportunity and untapped potential there is here, I began to think it is a great place to stay and get rooted in even more,” said Russell. “Although I love other cities, it has been great to see LA change over the years and improve because of all of the hard work and investment people have made. Settling in a place where I can see growth and bright spots all around me, fuels my energy to contribute.” Russell serves on the Board of Directors for Grow L+A, the YMCA, and The Auburn Business Development Corporation. She’s also the co-campaign manager of One LA.



Maine Home Show, Lewiston

economic development “In general, I care deeply about a connected and vibrant walkable community. I love architecture, both modern and historic, and love the urban environment that surrounds the buildings with its parks, bridges, courtyards, and landscapes,” said Russell, who also expresses her love for the arts, nature and animals, the environment, healthy living, and people. “I care about these causes, even if I’m not currently on a board that is focused on them.” Commenting on her future designs, she hopes that LA will become an arts, culture, and health and wellness destination, anchored by Mill 5 and the Mill District. “I’d also like to have my pilot’s license, an engineering degree, and a family.”

Nicholas P. Benoit

Entrepreneur, Benoit’s Bakery/Pretentious Pie Company For Nicholas P. Benoit, you might say that business is in his DNA. “I come from a long line of entrepreneurs so owning a business was in my blood. I started my first business at age 17, Benoit’s Farm Stand,” said Benoit. Now 12 years later, it has transformed into many businesses and opportunities expanding to bakeries, to real estate, and to consulting. “I love the challenges of each unique business. I don’t feel like it’s a job because I love what I do every day.” “I left Lewiston at a young age to attend prep schools at Cardigan Mountain School and Cushing Academy, but Lewiston has always been my home. It just felt right to start a business where I knew many people and had the support of my family,” said Ben-

economic development oit, noting that the people here are “pretty awesome” and that there are some great local businesses. “Owning a local business, I support and buy local. Lewiston has some great restaurants and, being a foodie, I try and frequent many of them.” In his free time, Benoit can be found out on the water boating. He’s also an avid golfer but he admits that his real passion is his antique car collection. He believes that in order for LA to grow, there needs to be more people and businesses coming to the area. “Lewiston has a bad stigma but if people actually come and see it, Lewiston has changed for the better and continues to do so.”

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Heidi Bisson


Student Finance Advisor, Kaplan University Heidi Bisson helps make dreams come true. “As a student finance advisor, I assist students with all aspects of the financial aid process. I meet with each student upon enrollment to review funding eligibility and assist with finding other sources of funding, if needed,” said Bisson, who has worked at Kaplan University for ten years. “I work with my students throughout their programs to ensure they understand their funding options. I also assist soon to be graduates and past graduates with loan repayment options to ensure they understand how their lender can help them.”

Jake Langlais

Principal, Lewiston Public Schools

“I was able to take advantage of the education benefits offered to me and complete my degree. I moved into the student finance office five years ago,” said Bisson. “It is a great feeling to see a student feel so happy to know they can afford to go back to school and make a better life for themselves and their family.” It is no surprise that Bisson’s community involvement finds her teaching financial literacy through Junior Achievement. “I have been a JA volunteer for four years and I am also a member of the central Maine area board,” she explains. “I believe financial literacy is very important to the success of our children and it should start at a young age. JA provides this to many children who may not have access to it otherwise.”


Jake Langlais is set on making a difference for kids in Lewiston.

Graduates, and taught business and computer applications courses locally.”

“Being a principal affords me the opportunity to work alongside highly capable professionals, students, parents, and the larger community,” said Langlais. “Each day I work on various aspects of educational leadership to support others in the teaching and learning process.”

While he’s currently the principal at Lewiston Middle School, he will take hold of the reins as principal of Lewiston High School in the fall.

“I got started in education at a young age with parents and a family that were not teachers by profession, but excellent teachers about life, and I spent many years as a therapeutic foster parent working with kids with behavioral needs,” said the Lewiston resident with two kids in the Lewiston school system and a wife who teaches at Montello Elementary School. “As my career has evolved I have worked at Lewiston Regional Technical Center, with Jobs for Maine’s 72

Bisson made her own dream come true when she started work as the front desk receptionist at the university.


“Some of the favorite parts of my career have been the relationships that have developed through the nature of the work we do with teaching and learning. We have a lot of amazing people in our community and I have been blessed to learn from them in so many ways.” As for challenges that lie ahead, Langlais sees toxic stress and trauma in young kids and generational poverty as key issues. “I believe the way we can overcome these challenges is through education.”

Alli Nolan

BRANCHES Program Manager, Tree Street Youth With solid roots and nourishment, trees grow branches and thrive. The analogy applies well to the work done by Alli Nolan. “I am the BRANCHES Program Manager at Tree Street Youth. Through the BRANCHES (Becoming Responsible Adults ‘N Cultivating Higher Education Success) Program, I work with youth of all ages to guide students through the steps to exploring, discovering, and achieving their future goals,” said Nolan. “By offering homework help and tutoring, college prep for the seniors, and a variety of early college exploration and career readiness programming, we are working to increase the overall graduation, college acceptance, and college retention rates of first-generation students in LA.”

education and establishing partnerships with colleges, schools, and other organizations around the state. “I also work with all of the deeply inspiring students at the Wayfinder School, an alternative residential school located in New Gloucester, Maine, where I help students develop their post-grad plans,” said Nolan. “Each day is so dynamic and different—and oftentimes just a little bit crazy —and it keeps me forever on my toes and continuously learning from our students and the rest of the staff at Tree Street Youth.” Nolan graduated from Colby College in 2014 and moved to Lewiston to begin working at Tree Street. “I have stayed here because of the wonderful friends and community.”

Nolan explains that her job is a wonderful mix between directly serving the vibrant kids who attend the youth center and doing bigger picture visioning for the direction of the program by evaluating programming

Abby Dix

Teacher, Lewiston Public Schools Abby Dix teaches second graders to read. “The summer going into my sophomore year of college, I started working as a camp counselor at the Auburn Recreation Department and realized I wanted to be an educator. I then came home to student teach and I was hired right out of college,” said Dix. “The favorite part of my job is when I hear my students say is ‘Mrs. Dix, I can read!’ after telling me they can’t earlier in the year.” While not only teaching 16 students how to read, Dix educates them in all primary subjects.

education “I have a strong focus in literacy and I use my skill set to help the children learn to enjoy reading and writing.” Dix loves spending her free time with her family which includes her husband, and a two and a half year old daughter and an eight month old baby boy. “We love going to the playground and to the pond at Bates College.” Dix sees two major challenges for the LA area: poverty and closet intolerance. “I have seen a huge shift in the economic standing of the population. I feel we can overcome this by continuing to bring in businesses which will bring in more jobs,” she reflects. “We say as a city we are very welcoming and diverse, but I often see a lot of the ‘us versus them’ mentality and it should not be like this at all. Our community was built on immigrants.”

Abby with her husband

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Julia Harper

Coordinator, Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn Food and beer are included in Julia Harper’s job descriptions. At the Good Food Council of LA, she works to eliminate food insecurity for those in need. Previously at Baxter Brewing Co., she introduced customers to one of Maine’s best craft beer products. “My career has been a winding path of self-discovery that has led me to prioritize work that is increasingly more purposeful, personal boundary-pushing, and supports a healthy work and life balance,” said Harper. She cites “two weird and wonderful years” where she made deep human connections, discovered unknown cultures, and did odd jobs in Americorps; one year in the National Civilian Conservation Corps in Denver and New Orleans, and one year in Maine with the REAL School, a service learning and experiential high school. “I also have gratitude for my three years working on The Dempsey Challenge event which recon-

Matthew D. Shaw

Director of Business & Process Improvements at Community CU Guest Services Agent & Manager-On-Duty at Hilton Garden Inn

emerging leaders nected me to LA and helped me to understand this community’s incredible fabric, passion, and heart,” said Harper, who believes LA is at a crossroads. “Resistance to change, specifically to changes in the urban environment, often strike me as a challenge. It’s a complex problem, but one avenue might be to somehow publicly recognize the contributions and hardships of the generations of workers that built these cities, while also recognizing that change and innovation are essential as our community has changed,” said Harper. “We need to experiment with techniques that have worked to revitalize, to bring better health, and to improve the quality of life in other similar communities.” Balloon Festival with friends

Maine Brew Bus’ “Fall Ducks & Drafts” tour

emerging leaders

Whether he’s at a Chamber of Commerce event or a community fundraiser, Matt Shaw’s smile will brighten your day.

the community. He adds, “They sure know how to stretch a dollar. It is remarkable in what they can do.”

“Whether I volunteer at an event, participate in fundraising, or give back with advice, I find it engaging and rewarding to help others,” said Shaw, a native of Lewiston. “A strong and bright community is only one of the building blocks that will drive more and more people to the area. There are numerous non-profit agencies in the area that are actively and consistently working towards building a strong, vibrant community and I have always supported them.”

Shaw earned a bachelor of science degree from Saint Joseph’s College where most of his elective courses were in marketing and business ethics. Upon graduating, he held various positions with Northeast Bank, Norway Savings Bank and, then, as Director of Campaign and Marketing for the local United Way.

Shaw notes that he has been privileged to work with many of these organizations and he’s witnessed how valuable they are to

“When Community Credit Union opened a position that combined my commitment and admiration to our community with my interest in relationship building, I became their Business Development Officer,” said Shaw. As a member of the Social Responsibility Committee for the Maine Credit Union League, Shaw is especially proud of his efforts with the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger.

Team of Volunteers at the 2017 St. Mary’s Commit to Get Fit Challenge


LA Art Walk

Matt, Monty & Natalie spreading Holiday Cheer



Jake Daniels

Retail Wireless Consultant, U.S. Cellular Jake Daniels found his niche in the wireless world. “I was a bartender in a corporate restaurant until it abruptly closed in 2014. After being referred to U.S. Cellular, I was hired at the Auburn location and began my career there,” said the LA area native. “I quickly found my niche, in sales, breaking four of the rookie records in my first quarter of employment.” He says that one of the favorite parts of his career was being chosen for the Leadership Evolution Program which he successfully completed. Left: Jake with his co-workers

Jake & Lauren Potvin outside at Build Maine 2016

Swimming with the dolphins in Punta Cana

emerging leaders “I learned, and have been able to apply, many aspects of training such as coaching, communicating with impact, and delivering sales principles, to name a few. I use these principles most every day.” Daniels welcomes the challenges of his work where there are opportunities to make connections with customers and share extensive knowledge about the products and services that will best enrich their lives. “I am an integral part of a competitive, yet collaborative team-focused sales environment,” said Daniels. “I am proud to be the face of U.S. Cellular at LA Metro Chamber of Commerce events where I’m instrumental in bringing awareness to why being local is important to an organization.” Daniels enjoys traveling, citing a quote from chef, Anthony Bourdan, who notes that “life and travel leave marks on you.” Twenty four year old Daniels has visited a dozen states and the Bahamas and Dominican Republic. “I enjoy seeing the diversity and cultural differences of each place and everything it has to offer.” LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @


Terri Cook

VP Branch Administrator, Mechanics Savings Bank Terri Cook has a keen interest in banking and the community. “I worked my way up from a part-time teller to a customer service representative and then I was offered a branch manager position at Mechanics Savings Bank. From there, I have been fortunate to grow into the position I hold today,” said Cook. “Because of my experiences, I am the first one to say, ‘be nice to everyone you meet,” you never know what might come from each encounter.”

emerging leaders just one to support. That is why I choose to dedicate time and efforts to the United Way,” notes Cook. “United Way serves as a catalyst for the area focusing on the areas of health, education, and financial stability. I believe these are the three building blocks of a strong community.” As for looking at her future 10 years from now, she said that she is not big on thinking that far ahead. “I prefer to make the most out of every single day right now.”

As for her community work, she said, “There is an opportunity to make an impact in the area and I can influence change. I know if I want to have a voice, I can have a voice.” While she describes herself as “a bit of a homebody,” Cook currently serves in a high-profile role as board chair of the United Way of Androscoggin County. “There are so many agencies doing wonderful things in our community that it makes it difficult to pick

Ashley Alexander

Owner, Blush Beauty Boutique For Ashley Alexander, starting a boutique was a “no brainer.” “I was born and raised in the LA area. Starting a business was a no brainer with all the exciting economic growth that is evolving in the community,” said Alexander, obviously very fond of this part of Maine. “The ongoing support from community and other local businesses has been more than we could have asked for.” Sounding much like a Chamber of Commerce brochure, she says, “I’ve always loved the four seasons in Maine and wanted to stay and raise my family here. From apple picking in the fall, downhill skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, to enjoying the lakes and oceans in the summer, it doesn’t get much better than this.” “With two children, I enjoy staying active, hiking and gardening in the summer. The family enjoys skiing and snowmobiling in the

Team of Volunteers at the Dempsey Challenge



Blush Salon Stylists

entrepreneurs winter, and I love to watch and play sports with my girls,” she said. “Spending time with family and friends brings me joy.” Every year, Alexander and her entire staff take part in the Dempsey Challenge, one of the area’s largest and most visible fundraisers. “I feel connected to this cause having lost my father to cancer.” For the first time this past year, she and her family decided to spend Thanksgiving serving at Hope Haven Gospel Mission. “It was our first time and such a loving and caring experience for all of us.” She’s excited about LA’s future by saying, “We need to create an attractive place which has a wide variety of interests and cultures. This is key.”

Christine Laliberte

Owner/Cosmetologist, The Beauty Bar Salon & Spa Born and raised in Lewiston, Christine Laliberte has created her own self-employment success. “I was a young mom wanting to be home with my children so I opened my first business as a daycare provider. When my children were in school full time I decided to obtain my cosmetology license since that was my true passion,” said Laliberte. “Over the last few years my salon has grown from two employees to 19. I love building people up and watching them grow and succeed. It’s really what keeps me motivated.” Laliberte prefers not to call her work a job. “It’s a passion. I never feel like I work.”

entrepreneurs Away from her salon, she’s passionate about causes that help children, mental health, the homeless and animals. She’s proud to have helped raise funds for the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers, Untold Strength, Safe Voices, and the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. In her free time, she loves to travel and going to the ocean. She spends her time involved with music, studying fashion, hair and makeup and she really enjoys cooking. Her favorite eating spots, in no particular order, are Jasmine’s Café, Marché, Fuel, Fish Bones and Simone’s Hot Dogs. And where would she like to see herself in 10 years? “Satisfied,” is her brief answer.

She always had strong support in her business venture. “Our staff are some of the most amazing individuals I’ve ever met. The support we get from local clients is amazing. I’m truly so grateful for them.”

Elizabeth Cyr

Owner/Stylist/Make-Up Artist, Blush Beauty Boutique Elizabeth Cyr does everything with style. After all, she’s a stylist. “My career as a stylist started as salon apprentice in 2007. This is when I met my current business partner, Ashley. She was my mentor while I was learning. The development of that relationship has been the most important in my career,” said Cyr. “My journey into business ownership started in 2010. Ashley and I began work on our business plan under the guidance of AVCOG (Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments) that year. In 2012, AVCOG funded our start up and we officially opened Blush Beauty Boutique in August that year.” Cyr said that she spends around 40 hours a week “behind the chair” enjoying time with her clients and working as an artist

Elizabeth with her nephew, Weston Betsch

Elizabeth with her dad, James Betsch

entrepreneurs and stylist. As a salon owner, she’s involved in marketing, social media, company image, merchandising, inventory and event management. She also manages the budget and business growth plan. “I was born and raised in Auburn and moved to Lewiston with my husband in 2010,” said Cyr. “I knew that if I was going to open a business I was going to need the support of the people I knew and grew up with.” “At this point, as a business owner, I love the potential in downtown Lewiston,” notes Cyr. “The community had been really supportive of the small businesses that have been renovating and opening in the old spaces. Every successful new place that opens inspires me to make my business even better.”

Elizabeth with her husband, Evan Cyr

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Zachary A. Pratt Chef/Owner, Boba


Zachary A. Pratt admits that his job is cooking and running his business, but that’s not the highest priority.

them my favorite. It’s the business model that makes me enjoy these two destinations.”

“My job has many roles, but the most important item on my job description is making each and every customer to feel welcomed.” “My career started at the Lewiston Regional Technical Center with Chef Danny Caron. From there, I worked with Gard Briggs at Turner Highlands,” said Pratt, who considers both of them mentors.

What does the chef/owner do in his free time? “I don’t think much about my free time outside my career because my passion is so deep for my job,” admits Pratt. “I do enjoy spending family time together with my wife, Keshia, and my four year old son, Maddax.”

While his own restaurant specializes in the many flavors of Southeast Asia with a unique French twist, there are other eateries that he admires.

He’s passionate about the work being done at the Good Shepherd Food Bank and the local Boys and Girls Club. In 10 years from now, he sees having three franchised locations of his company and having a house in Southeast Asia with his family. “But honestly things can always change, so it’s hard to predict the future.”

“Well, I must say it’s hard to choose favorite places to eat in the area. The ones that stand out to me are Fuel and DaVinci’s. It’s not just the food that makes

Tyler Tyburski

Lead Care Manager, Community Health Options “Working in preventative health has been my main direction. Throughout my journey, the ability to grow and obtain additional skills so that I can provide preventative health services to more individuals has been extremely rewarding,” said Tyburski, noting that sports, physical activity, science, and health have always been keen interests. At Community Health Options he serves as a nurse care manager in all aspects of population health, including preventative health, chronic condition management, complex health needs, behavioral health, and complex care management. Additionally, he’s responsible for the day-to-day operations of the wellness and disease management program. Aside from these duties, Tyburski has a greater vision of personal health in the area.

Tyler and his wife on their wedding day.


Ladies of his life


Left: The inspiration and people who helped Right: Scallion Pancake with house marinated ginger beef

health & wellness “Community initiatives promote health and wellness. By integrating these concepts into city projects, we could promote action. Examples could include bike lanes and more health-focused community events. Build Maine and Blue Zones Project are great examples of the potential benefits of smart city planning,” said Tyburski, who obtained his associates degree in nursing from the Maine College of Health Professions. “We need support for refugee and immigrant integration. This could partly be addressed by business leaders reaching out to community leaders of underserved populations, inviting them to become engaged. It would also be very helpful to have education for the community regarding cultural differences.” Tyburski believes that health can improve with more walkable downtown areas with storefronts and curbside eateries. “The area between Cedar Street and Main Street bridges would be ideal for a concept of this sort.”

Erin Guay

Executive Director, Healthy Androscoggin Erin Guay has a passion for public health. “My job is to lead Healthy Androscoggin, a community health coalition. Essentially we identify the most pressing health needs of our community and work collaboratively with partners to address them. We also provide programming to help people live healthier lives, such as nutrition education, tobacco cessation classes and opportunities to safely dispose of medications,” said Guay. Guay discovered the world of public health when she took a job on an arsenic study at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the state health department. “I was fortunate to work with amazing mentors who introduced me to the field and encouraged me to get my master’s degree. I owe them so much,” she reflects. “My favorite parts of my career have been finding success while

Megan Skilling Zumba Instructor

Megan Skilling is not your typical fitness instructor. She’s traveled a journey that many can identify with. “I attended my first Zumba® class on April 25th, 2011. At 330 pounds just even standing for an hour was hard, never mind dancing. But I kept going back,” said Skilling. “You see the difference for me was finding a family. Going to class gave me friends, something I lacked, and these friends kept me coming back. We would laugh and have fun. The working out? Well that was just a bonus.” A year after that first visit to the Zumba class, she became an instructor. After losing 40% of her original body weight, Skilling had surgery in 2013 to remove extra skin that was painful when working out.

health & wellness working as part of a supportive and driven team. It feels great to look around the community and see ways that my colleagues and I have made a positive difference.” What inspires Guay in LA Metro? “The people and the quirky assets of the community are what I enjoy most. People here are so often willing to step up and help someone out. They see an issue and they volunteer to do something about it,” she said. “I also think our community is such a wonderful size. It is big enough to have lots of things to do and places to eat but small enough that you are surrounded by people you know who care.”

Erin presenting a Work Healthy award to Advocates for Children

Erin and her daughter, Annaliese

health & wellness “I haven’t done it on my own. I had my family, friends and God all backing me up. I still have more weight that I would like to lose but I tell myself that healthy knows NO size,” reflects Skilling. “In my class, I encourage letting loose and smiling and being yourself. I’m not perfect. I don’t want to be. I live my life with purpose, it’s why I teach. I love dancing, moving, and losing myself in the music. I don’t care if you’re young, old, overweight, underweight, use weights, in a wheelchair, need a chair or have hair issues. You are part of my class and I won’t stop until I teach you how to move to the music and feel free.”

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Katie Boss

health & wellness

Health Promotion Manager, Healthy Androscoggin Katie Boss clearly embraces the area. “I moved from Boston to Lewiston-Auburn for work, but it took only three months in this community to realize that I had landed in my new home. My husband and I started looking for our first house soon after I started my job, and we’ve been happily settled here ever since,” said Boss. “When we first moved here I was surprised by how quickly and easily my family was welcomed by so many different people in the community. I love that this is a city surrounded by a rich agricultural community, which allows us to enjoy the best of both worlds,” said Boss, who is responsible for Healthy Androscoggin’s lead poisoning prevention, nutrition and physical activity related grants, and staff. “I am lucky enough to be very passionate about Healthy Androscoggin. This is a phenomenal group of people working hard to protect the health of residents across Androscoggin County, and contribute to the lively culture and community in the area. Public health

Heidi Sawyer

Manager, Market Engagement Manpower Maine It is the “spirit” in the LA Metro area that continues to inspire Heidi Sawyer today. “I know it sounds cheeky, but the people and businesses in this community have a ‘get it done, never say die attitude.’ said the manager of market engagement for Manpower Maine. “The people in this community are committed to making a difference, to making a future that is bright for anyone willing to roll up their sleeves.” In her day job, Sawyer engages both employers and job seekers throughout Maine using a variety of media. Social media is a key element of that work and she’s extended its use to her community involvement. “I started a Facebook group called Lewiston Rocks about two years ago. It is a community group designed to help people in

Heidi and the scout den she led


Heidi and some Uplift LA friends


is an essential field and one that we work hard to protect and promote.” Boss said that while growing up in Bangor, she often heard negative stereotypes passed around about Lewiston-Auburn. “The reality is, of course, so different, and helping people overcome preconceived notions about LA is a challenge that we as a community can work toward together.” Where does Boss see herself 10 years from now? “Right where I am continuing the good work, enjoying my community and growing my family.” Katie, with her husband, Sam

Katie, with her daughter, Clara & dog, Henry

Healthy Androscoggin staff

local government & civic leaders our city get to know each other and for community members to talk about local issues and build relationships with each other,” said Sawyer, who asks participants to be kind in their postings on the page. “In the world of social media it is easy to throw out opinions or comments without any concern about who you might be hurting. I wanted a space that brought people together to discuss important topics in a manner that will help people with varying opinions.” Sawyer recently started a video series on Facebook called #LewistonLive where she interviews a Lewiston resident about life in the area while broadcasting it on a live video feed.

Heidi and her two guys

Jennifer M. Hogan

President/CEO, Community Credit Union Jennifer Hogan has certainly worked her way up the career ladder. “I was working at the local radio station when I was approached at a chamber breakfast about applying for the marketing position at Community Credit Union. A few weeks later, I started working for the credit union as the marketing and training coordinator,” said Hogan, whose family settled in Lisbon Falls where her father was stationed in Brunswick during his Navy career.

local government & civic leaders “Dick said to me ‘We are all about being local. If you’re going to work for me then you’re going to be involved in the community. You can do whatever you want but you need to commit to something,’” remembers Hogan. “I committed and I never looked back.” Some 15 years later, Hogan heeds that advice like it was said to her yesterday. “Now those words are echoed from my mouth to managers and employees within the credit union. I love this community and have committed myself to working in Lewiston, living in Turner and playing throughout all of the LA Metro area.”

“I had a passion for this work and knew I wanted to make a career out of it. Throughout my 10 years I have taken on a variety of functions and positions within the credit union including marketing and business director, executive vice president and now president/CEO,” said Hogan. Hogan credits radio station owner, Dick Gleason, for giving her advice early in her career.

Community Credit Union Management team

Nick, Chase and Jen

Ricker Hill Orchards Jen’s daughter, niece and nephews

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Adam R. Lee

Attorney at Trafton, Matzen, Belleau & Frenette “We presently face a moment, like the rest of the state, the country, and the world, where we can either escape inward and cling to an imagined nostalgic past or we can open ourselves to the infinite possibilities of our future,” said the Lewiston based lawyer. “I hope we choose the second path and resolve that we are willing to work with anyone and everyone who wants to see our world, our country, our state and, most especially, Auburn and Lewiston, improve.”

local government & civic leaders “The first time I visited LA, it felt like home. LA is tough but caring, smart but not pretentious, hardworking, but capable of not taking itself too seriously,” said Lee. “We’re presently poised to do amazing things. I feel it.” On the topic of doing great things, Lee sets some personal goals. “My wife, Heidi McCarthy, and I are running a 5k in all 50 states before we’re 50 years old,” said Lee. “So that means lots of traveling and running.” When not training for a 5k run, Lee has some favorite local spots for a brew and something to eat. “I go to Gritty’s, where I’m a mug club member since 2009, Fuel, Marche, Thai Dish, Orchid, Bear Bones, Rolly’s, and many more that I am presently forgetting to mention.” In his spare time, he likes to write and listen to music and he claims that he is “in far too many fantasy football leagues.”

Lee offers kudos about the area quite freely.

Joseph J. Philippon

Community Resource Officer, Lewiston Police Department With a soft-spoken demeanor and engaging smile that lights up a room, it is easy to forget that Joe Philippon is a seasoned police officer who once worked patrol duty on the night shift. “My interest in police work began during my senior year in high school after I had done a few ride a-longs with officers who were former students of my parents,” said Philippon. “I graduated from the University of Maine at Augusta with a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice and I now work on the Lewiston Police Department’s Community Resource Team.” Philippon explained that this unit was created in 2010 to identify the needs of the community through information sharing and collaboration.

Joe, his wife Katie, and sons Isaha and Jackson


2016 National Night Out


local government & civic leaders “I represent the department at community meetings such as the Androscoggin Community Collaborative, the Community Partnership for Protecting Children, Healthy Neighborhoods Planning Council, and the Lewiston- Auburn Alliance of Services to the Homeless,” said Philippon. “Since outreach is an important part of my job, I act as the liaison to our new Mainer community and host monthly meetings with the two mosques in Lewiston. I also serve as the co-chair for the New Mainer Community Collaborative and as a member of the city of Lewiston’s Immigrant and Refugee Planning Council.” Philippon is passionate about confronting the negative perception many people continue to harbor about Lewiston. “The perception is that we have a high crime rate,” admits Philippon. “In case you didn’t know, Lewiston ranks #37 in the state for crime rate.”

LEWISTON CONGRATULATES Four of Our Emerging Leaders

Misty Parker

Joe Philippon

Abby Dix

Jake Langlais

Building LA

Civic Leader



LA’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2017 ~ We’re proud of our next generation of leaders ~ Thank you for being a positive force in our community!

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Nate Libby

State Senator, State of Maine As a state senator and Assistant Senate Democratic Leader, Lewiston resident Nate Libby enacts public policy, negotiates the state’s 2-year $7 billion budget, advocates for constituents who need services, and helps manage the day-to-day operations and professional staff of the senate Democratic caucus. As a consultant, he works with businesses, nonprofits, and local governments to make projects happen, whether that’s raising money, building a building, or planning a project or program. “After I graduated from Bates College, I went to work on state and federal political campaigns in Maine. There, I began meeting people involved in all manner of business in government,” said the Norridgewock, Maine, native. “The old adage, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ started to make sense to me.” He admits that nearly every professional opportunity that has come his

Sasha Lee Vurnakes

Owner, Sasha Lee’s Boutique Sasha helps women find their inner and outer beauty. “Shortly after opening the boutique I realized that regardless of your own appearance we all have hang ups about our physical self and we are very critical when we’re in minimal clothing such as lingerie. This is where the idea for Sasha Lee’s Annual Lingerie Fashion Show came from. I wanted to show my community that beauty and sex appeal doesn’t come in just one standard form. I wanted to show that attraction comes in different ways and we are all equally worthy and alluring,” said the entrepreneur. “I developed the idea of presenting Sasha Lee’s lingerie on the runway but instead of using hired professional models I would use everyday customers. After all, that is who I wanted to speak to.” “The best curve on a woman body is he ’s r smile.”

Steve and



Sasha Vurn


local heores way resulted from a personal connection of some kind, particularly in Lewiston. Community service is at the forefront for Libby, having served on the board of directors for area Project Head and the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council. “I currently serve as the chair of Lewiston’s universally accessible playground committee where we are charged with building a first-inMaine public playground accessible to children and adults of all physical and cognitive ability levels,” said Libby. Farwell 4th graders at the State House

Libby reflects that growing household incomes is biggest challenge that concerns him in the political arena. “Enacting public policies that support independent living, higher wages, lower health care costs, and opportunities for higher education are all a part of the solution.”

Nate’s family

local heores She explains that she put out a call for volunteers of all sizes, ages, and shapes to be models. The response was overwhelming with literally hundreds of volunteers. For Vurnakes, the response confirmed that the community was eager to participate in something that was, in her opinion, transformational. “For several months, I worked with these volunteers, alongside my team of experts, helping them to get comfortable with the idea of being on stage in front of a crowd. It’s quite incredible to see the models blossom with confidence and self-acceptance. It’s absolutely my favorite part of the process.” After hours at the boutique, Vurnakes offers Burlesque Chair Dancing and Boudoir Portrait Sessions, bringing even more transformational events to the area.

Jenna-Rae Brown

General Manager, Gritty McDuff’s Brewing Company There’s always lots brewing with Jenna-Rae Brown. As General Manager of Gritty McDuff’s Brewing Company you might find her scheduling front of house shifts, fundraisers called Community Pint Nights, ordering supplies and products, planning functions with customers, and doing a variety of customer service tasks. “I started in the restaurant industry as a server to pay for college. My favorite moments of my career are the direct result of the people I have met and befriended

Megan Guynes

Program Director, Tree Street Youth On any given day, you’ll find Megan Guynes making a difference in the lives of area youth. “I was a year out of college when I began my journey with Tree Street. I was hired as the volunteer coordinator and later became the enrichment coordinator. Now I am the program director for our afterschool and summer program serving about 120 to 150 kids from kindergarten to grade 12,” said Guynes. “I often describe Tree Street as a place where you fall in love by chance but you stay in love by choice.

Life at the theatre

Fun times at Tree Street

The energy, diversity, and sincerity of the youth and all those involved have an impact on you. I love that it is an environment where everyone is constantly learning, growing, and rising to greatness. In her free time outside of work, you’ll find Guynes singing, hanging out with

local heores along the way,” said Brown. “I grew up in Auburn and when we started a family, we moved back to this area.” “I enjoy reconnecting with old friends and meeting new people. There are many energetic, positive people working hard to make this community a better place to live,” said Brown. “I like that.” Her time away from work finds her volunteering. “I have been fortunate to volunteer at Park Avenue Elementary School, where all three of my daughters attend school. Working in the classroom with children has been an eye-opening and truly satisfying experience,” said Brown, who welcomes the experience. “My respect for teachers continues to grow.” Brown is passionate about the work being done at Tree Street Youth and the Dempsey Center, both of which she calls staples of the community. She comments that both organizations have excellent staff who strive to make a difference in people’s lives daily. Looking ahead, she would like to return to college, pursue nursing, and one day become a midwife.

local heores friends, being silly, or going to church where she sings in the choir and is a Praise and Worship Youth Leader. “I spend my Monday nights at Gospelaires, the Bates Gospel choir, a group I have been involved with since attending Bates,” said Guynes. “You’ll also find me at the theater as an actress or an enthusiastic audience member. My most recent role was that of Tituba in The Crucible performed at Community Little Theater. Outside of this, I love exploring the world. You may spot me in Boston, Portland, or on other random adventures like driving back to California for a home visit.”

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Amanda M. Fitts

Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician Amanda M. Fitts is a natural helper. “I’ve worked in health care for 11 years and I love helping others so being a mental health rehabilitation technician is a perfect job for me,” said Fitts, who also helps run the Sapphire Night Club and Event Center. “Having this venue allows me to donate to folks who are truly needy.” She explains that the event center has hosted about 10 fundraising benefits for people who have lost loved ones and for people battling cancer.

volunteers Personally speaking, she said that her fiancé is her biggest hero and she feels that she has become a better person because of him. She moved from Sidney, Maine, to Lewiston to be with him and his two daughters. She proudly said that she has three daughters for her own. She’s humble about the recognition she’s received for her community work. “I don’t look for the attention, but it feels so amazing to be recognized. This truly means the world to me,” said Fitts. “If I could open a few more businesses I could help people even more than I do now.”

“We have held two mental health dances and we are doing a prom soon,” said Fitts. “We are able to donate quite a bit because we have a caring team at Sapphire that are always there to help me.” She said that the event center will be doing something for Earth Day to help clean up the community and environment, as well.

Karen Staples

Maine Staff Assistant, Office of Congressman Bruce Poliquin In her day job, Karen Staples helps sort out issues for the constituents of Maine Congressman, Bruce Poliquin. “I represent the congressman from our office in Lewiston,” said Staples. “I assist constituents with issues that arise involving social security, immigration, veteran affairs, taxes, or environmental problems. I listen to citizen concerns.” Her drive to helping others has a far reach through her work with the Lewiston Elks Lodge #371 where she and her husband immerse themselves in community efforts. “I have been able to spearhead various projects through the Lodge in the past seven years. Through the Dictionary Project, we distributed over 700 dictionaries in area schools specifically

Karen with Officer Joe Philippon & Dee Cauoette, Exalted Ruler of Lewiston Elks Lodge #371.


Karen is pictured with Third Grade Class at St. Dom’s after distributing dictionaries.


Amanda and her husband, Jeremy

Amanda and Jeremy’s business

Amanda and her family

volunteers for 3rd graders. I’ve obtained grants to provide a day at the movies for Tree Street Youth’s summer program and to fill their closet with back-to-school supplies,” said Staples. “I organized the grant process for the Lewiston Police Department’s Movie Night Out and assisted them this summer with popcorn for the kids. I organized the placement of flag poles at the Auburn Hospice House and the Lewiston Armory on Central Avenue in honor of our veterans.” If that wasn’t enough, Staples cited her involvement in other efforts that involved geocaching and camping for local Boy Scouts, backpacks filled with personal items for homeless veterans, and drug awareness programs designed to encourage kids to “Just Say No to Drugs.” “I’m always seeking out where I can give back to local organizations and groups especially those that are for the youth and our veterans.”

Matthew M. Poulin

Consumer Retail Lender, Mechanics Savings Bank Matthew M. Poulin is a banking lender who likes to lend a helping hand in his community. “Some of my favorite parts of my career consist of establishing and maintaining relationships with individual and business customers, while ensuring a great customer experience, along with working with clients to identify their financial goals and to find ways of reaching those goals,” said Poulin. As for the community work, Poulin is equally committed. “I am very passionate about any cause in relation to cancer research because I have had family members with cancer and it is very painful to watch. I also have the utmost passion for those who are dedicating their time to help those with cancer,” said Poulin, who resides in Lewiston.

Melanie LaMore Gagnon

Director of Shelter Services, Safe Voices

volunteers “I think one of the biggest challenges we are faced with in the community is the separation. I think we are divided as a community and I strongly feel that it plays a role economically and socially. I believe we need to continue to do a better job of uniting the community with events and opportunities to bring us all together. I feel we need to spend a lot more time bringing together the diversities of our community because once we have gained faith and trust in our community, it will all come together,” said the banker. “Numbers are numbers and budgets are budgets, but the great people of our community help us grow and we will be much stronger together rather than separated.”

Maine Class A All-State Banquet

Matthew and his family


Melanie LaMore Gagnon offers support and hope for those who lose their voices.

College in 2008,” said LaMore Gagnon. “For the past 14 years, I’ve worked with children, youth, and families of our local community.”

As director of shelter services in the area, she is committed to ensuring that victims of domestic violence have a safe place to go, so survivors and their children can live in a home, safe and free from violence. On any given day, you can find her writing various grant applications and reports, overseeing programs and staff, overseeing the maintenance of the shelter building, and supporting and empowering survivors residing in the shelter.

While faced with the realities of human suffering every day in her work, she said the weight of that is enormous. However, she sees that the reward of this kind of work far outweighs the difficult days.

“I began my career in the social service field after graduating from Clark University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I then received my master’s degree in Social Work from Boston

Melanie with her husband Dan and Carter

Melanie at Safe Voices 5k

“I recognize that there is something incredibly humbling about sharing space with someone who has experienced something horrific and being a small piece of the puzzle to their overall journey,” she reflects. “Being part of a collective effort to improve the lives of others in our community and empowering individuals to take back control of their own lives is truly an honor and some of the most inspiring work I’ve done in my career.”

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