LA Metro Magazine - Spring 2022

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LA

METRO MAGAZINE SPRING 2022

LABOR OF LOVE The art of brewing Page 31

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MISSION WORKING DOGS The right stuff

ANDROSCOGGIN HOME HEALTHCARE + HOSPICE

Health care for all Maine’s communities




Where the locals eat! Maine’s #1Steakhouse for a reason.

Try any one of our salads, entrees, sandwiches, or burgers.

Shown here: Bleu-cheese crusted Filet Mignon 8 oz. bacon wrapped tenderloin topped with garlic butter or Bleu cheese crusted, served with two sides.

Mac’s Grill | 1052 Minot Avenue, Auburn | 207-783-6885 | www.MacsGrill.com 2

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SPRING 2022



editor’s note PHOTOGRAPHY BY BREWSTER BURNS

Spring is here! With the turn of the season seems to come the turn of the ongoing pandemic. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that I’m ready for COVID to not be part of our everyday lives anymore – I’m over it. There is no greater excitement than seeing planning for events, festivals, and gatherings happening again. I’m on board for all of it! I continue to pray for all of our local businesses to continue to survive through the aftermath of shutdowns, labor and food shortages, and operational price hikes. Spring is also an exciting time for me as I open up my camp, see the sunlight later in the day, and watch the snow I despise leave the ground. I can’t wait to sit outside in the evening with a campfire and enjoy a growler of my favorite beer! Speaking of beer, I’m very excited about our cover story, “The Art of Brewing.” Our dear friends at Side by Each Brewing Co. worked with myself and our CEO/Publisher Jimbo Marston to develop their very first Red Belgian Ale, appropriately named Hot Off the Press, for LA Metro Magazine. The story details the brewing process and how different styles of beer are created. The beer release included a celebration that included live music with The Smith Collaboration (also highlighted in this issue in our Sound Check story). This Spring issue also features a fairly new nonprofit organization, Mission Working Dogs, founded by Christy Gardner. Gardner, who has service dogs of her own, started the organization to train other dogs and volunteers to be of service to others. Currently building a 10-building campus in Oxford, this organization has taken off very quickly! We also feature Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice (AHHH). AHHH has been giving patients better “quality of life” through home care, palliative care, as well as hospice care since 1996. Both of these organizations bring support, kindness, and care to people who are in really tough situations. As I’ve now settled back into daily life here at LA Metro Magazine, it has been a breath of fresh air to be part of something so positive and uplifting in LA and beyond. The sense of community engagement and support that I’m able to witness because of this magazine warms my heart. This area benefits greatly from this publication, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. I invite those in the business community who read this magazine and enjoy it to advertise in its pages. We’ve heard from several businesses about aligning their ad with a certain story that means something to them... and that’s a great opportunity we can provide. I encourage all of our readers to get out there and frequent your local businesses. Let’s support them as they continue to try to work through tough times two years into the pandemic. Thank you for letting LA Metro Magazine continue being your best resource to entertain, inspire, and inform. Be kind and well, everyone.

TYLA DAVIS Editor-in-Chief

LA Metro Magazine is proudly printed in Lewiston, Maine at

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LA METRO MAGAZINE | SPRING 2022

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CONTRIBUTORS TOBY HABER-GIASSON

editorial director/writer

Toby hails from the bustling New York City media world, where she promoted live events like payper-view boxing, and published album reviews in Creem and Audio magazines. In LA, she coordinates events for First Universalist Church of Auburn, hosting the monthly Pleasant Note Open Mic, and staging their annual “Vagina Monologues” benefit against domestic violence.

J.G. BREERWOOD writer

Originally from New Orleans, J.G. Breerwood currently lives in Topsham, ME. A former professional brewer, J.G. now teaches English and creative writing at Lewiston High School.

photographer

Brewster was raised in Waterford, Maine, attended Oxford Hills High School, then graduated from Colby College. He became an English teacher at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, where he has remained since 1988.

He has been a beer writer for over ten years and just published his first novel, Sinking Dixie.

Christmas of 2012, he received his first camera, and quickly developed a love of the lens. Brewster freelances for some Maine newspapers and local magazines. He resides in Hebron, with his wife and two children.

PEGGY L. DEBLOIS

DAVID FULLER

MICHAEL KRAPOVICKY

A native of Lewiston, Peggy began writing creatively as a child growing up in a French-Catholic neighborhood. A graduate of Bowdoin College, she began her career in journalism at PC Week in Boston, where she was the ghostwriter for the industry gossip columnist, Spencer the Cat.

On his eighth birthday, David’s favorite aunt gave him a camera. She couldn’t have known that, from that day, photography would grow into a passion, a career, and a ticket to experiences he would otherwise only have dreamed of.

writer

She has also worked locally as an English teacher and public relations consultant. A resident of Auburn, she recently finished her first novel.

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BREWSTER BURNS

photographer

Fifty years later, David is a successful filmmaker, photographer, and creative director working for national and local advertising agencies, businesses, and educational and government clients. It was, as things have turned out, the perfect gift.

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SPRING 2022

writer

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

T.S. CHAMBERLAND writer

T.S. is a native of Lewiston who first aspired to become a writer during her sophomore year at Lewiston High School. She has written for a variety of local Maine newspapers and publications since 2006. Community and growth are of particular interest to this local music aficionado, and she enjoys fitness, beachcombing, whiskey and wine tastings, as well as travel and time with family and friends.

JOSE LEIVA

photographer

Jose started his photography career while in the Air Force during Vietnam. He moved to Maine in the late 1980s and retired from the Sun Journal a few years ago. He now works as a freelance photographer and exhibits his art locally. Jose lives in Lewiston, Maine, with his wife, Linda. Together they have six adult children, and four grandchildren who are a source of photographic inspiration.


CONTRIBUTORS LINDA LEIVA writer

Linda lives in Lewiston, a native to the city. She taught school in Auburn and earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and joined the faculty at UMF. She worked with her husband Jose writing the copy for his photo columns in the local paper. Now fully retired, she serves on the board for Promise Early Education Center and works at her church in various ministries. She and her husband, Jose, have six children between them and share four “grands.”

DONNA KEENE ROUSSEAU writer

A Maine native, Donna has dedicated much of her career to assisting families as they navigate the world of eldercare. Her philosophy is, “Create good by approaching all things with an open mind and a generous, honest heart;” it has served her well, personally and professionally. Writing is her happy place and her family is her heart.

JILLIAN NETHERLAND writer

A Pennsylvania native, Jillian moved to Maine from Dallas, Texas, with her husband and two toddler daughters in August of 2020. Her lifelong love of the written word began with writing short stories and poems at the age of six, eventually leading to the creation of her own company, EleGrant Writing Services. Jillian is a business development specialist for Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice by day and enjoys live music, books, and creative writing.

SARA POULIN writer

Sara is a “County” transplant enjoying life on the Androscoggin River. Most days she can’t be found, hiding away in the woods or mountains, enjoying the quiet peacefulness of the outdoors. A musician and actress, she enjoys the many diverse cultural opportunities offered in the LA area. She writes, she runs, pats all the dogs, loves beer, and plays the ukulele... badly.

NICOLE RAND photographer

Nicole can’t remember a time when she did not have a camera in her hands. Her passion for photography started when she was little, working with her uncle who ran his own studio. She graduated in 2015 with a degree in photography and digital workflow. Shortly afterwards, she opened her own portrait studio, Creativeones Photography. Her passion is to show the beauty that is within everyone. She is constantly learning new and inventive ways to capture moments that will last a lifetime.

If you’re an accomplished writer or photographer and would like to be part of this region’s premiere lifestyle magazine, please let us know. The sense of community this magazine exudes will make you glad to be part of the LAMM team! Learn more about us at www.LAMetroMagazine.com and then email us at editor@LAMetroMagazine.com Writers & Photographers Wanted LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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CORE

Our

Crew

PUBLISHER & CEO

Jim Marston jim@LAMetroMagazine.com

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Tyla Davis editor@LAMetroMagazine.com

ADVERTISING SALES

Jim Marston Publisher & CEO

Jim@LAMetroMagazine.com

Jim Marston Steve Simard

PRODUCTION MANAGERS Tyla Davis Jim Marston

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Toby Haber-Giasson

WRITERS

Tyla Davis

Editor-in-Chief/Graphic Design editor@LAMetroMagazine.com

J.G. Breerwood T.S. Chamberland Peggy L. DeBlois Toby Haber-Giasson Michael Krapovicky Linda Leiva Jillian Netherland Sara Poulin Donna Keene Rousseau

PROOFREADERS Keith Davis Kayla Marston

PHOTOGRAPHY

Steve Simard Sales

Steve@LAMetroMagazine.com

Brewster Burns David Fuller Jose Leiva Nicole Rand

COVER

Side by Each Brewing Co. Head Brewer Willis Croninger pouring LA Metro Magazine’s Hot Off the Press Red Belgian ale. Photographer: Jose Leiva LA Metro Magazine is published four times each year by LA Metro Magazine, LLC Editorial and subscription info: Call 207-783-7039 email: info@LAMetroMagazine.com 9 Grove Street, Auburn, ME 04210

Stephanie Arsenault Bookkeeper

billing@LAMetroMagazine.com

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LA METRO MAGAZINE | SPRING 2022

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 ©2022 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.


content volume seven | issue two | spring 2022

cover story

quick reads

11

15

31

25 The art of brewing

features

20

43

Mission Working Dogs

Eats: Daddy O’s Diner

Dancing on Tradition

39

Social Hour: Just-in-Time Recreation

50

Sound Check: The Smith Collaboration

56 Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice

Health & Wellness: Healthy Living for ME

61

Neokraft Signs

Local grocers provide freshness and family

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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LA METRO MAGAZINE | SPRING 2022


Workshops to build healthier lives Written by Michael Krapovicky | Photography by David Fuller

H Celia Gould, Martha Bryant, and Joe Gizinski take part in a Tai Chi class.

ealthy Living for ME, Maine’s statewide Community Integrated Health Network, launched in June 2018 through a formalized partnership of Spectrum Generations, SeniorsPlus, and Aroostook Agency on Aging. This partnership was designed to offer evidence-based programs and health and wellness services. Their mission is to coordinate and align community resources for the people of Maine.


Mission As the state with the oldest population, Maine boasts many agencies serving seniors. SeniorsPlus, headquartered in Lewiston, assists people primarily from Franklin, Oxford, and Androscoggin counties; Aroostook Agency on Aging serves seniors in Aroostook County; and Spectrum Generations helps older and disabled adults throughout Central Maine. These three agencies joined in 2018 to form Healthy Living for ME (HL4ME) to consolidate services and increase accessibility. “The idea was to make a united force so we can reach as many people as possible, rather than all these different organizations going it alone,” says Katherine Mills, Healthy Living for ME program coordinator at SeniorsPlus. “We pool resources and staff, to extend services to a wide range of adults from Maine.” Since 2018, the HL4ME network has reached over 3,300 Mainers – ranging in age from 22 to 99 – through their delivery of evidencebased programming. “We are primarily focused on older adults,” says Gus Nelson, community education supervisor at SeniorsPlus, “but any adultage Maine residents are able to take these courses. We try to be as inclusive as possible.” HL4ME is grant-funded in part by the Administration for Community Living, or ACL. Federally and donor-funded, the ACL invests in research, education, and innovation, funding community-based organizational networks.

Peer-reviewed Healthy Living for ME provides a variety of workshops which are thoroughly researched and deemed effective. Several of these

Gus Nelson workshops target chronic conditions, such as arthritis, rheumatic disease, hypertension, diabetes, emphysema, and depression. “Evidence-based programs are proven to promote health and prevent disease among adults with chronic health conditions,” Nelson insists. “They demonstrate reliable, consistently positive outcomes.” The HL4ME network implements new programs based on their relationship with state and federal partners’ initiatives, and Maine’s needs. “If the program is a good fit,” explains Nelson, “we have a staff member trained in the HL4ME program, and then we begin the implementation process.”

Workshops A main goal of HL4ME is to impart to its constituents the tools they need to take back control of their lives. Some of the most popular HL4ME workshops offered at SeniorsPlus include: “A Matter of Balance,” “Building Better Caregivers,” and the “Living Well for Better Health” series which helps people cope and function with chronic disease, pain, HIV, and diabetes, and other symptoms of illness.

Katherine Mills 12

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SPRING 2022

SeniorsPlus also provides workshops covering basic skills for seniors like Zoom 101, AARP driving courses, yoga, as well as “Tai Chi for Health and Balance,” which are taught in-house at


By Michael Krapovicky | Photography by David Fuller | Healthy Living for ME

Celia Gould, Joe Gizinkski, Doris Surette, and Fred DiBello follow instructor June Turcotte’s moves. their Falcon Road location in Lewiston. Shown to be effective in preventing falls and relieving arthritic pain, Tai Chi exercises the entire body, and strengthens the mind at the same time.

96% feel more satisfied with life, 94% feel more comfortable talking to their health care provider, and 86% feel more confident in managing their conditions.

In LA, many HL4ME programs are taught at SeniorsPlus and in partnership with other organizations. Senior College at University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn College, Auburn Recreation Department, Lewiston Adult Education, local assisted living and nursing home facilities, and others comprise HL4ME providers and host-site partners.

A common objective for the participants of HL4ME’s Living Well with Diabetes and the National Diabetes Prevention Program is losing weight; after program completion, a large majority of them make significant strides toward their weight loss goals, becoming more physically active.

“With many senior citizens in isolation due to health constraints,” says Mills, “many of the courses are offered as virtual classes, and also can be accessed over the phone.”

“A completer of ‘Living Well with Diabetes’ called us months after finishing the workshop,” reports Nelson. “She let us know she had lost 40 pounds, and was feeling so much better that she returned to work part-time.”

Most workshops offered by SeniorsPlus are held Monday-Friday between the hours of 8a.m. - 5p.m., though the wider Healthy Living for ME network offers workshops at many different times.

Other workshops stress pain management skills with a goal of helping participants reduce pain and improve their overall quality of life.

Benefits

“A completer of ‘Living Well with Chronic Pain’ had worked with his health care team to decrease all pain medication,” Mills continues. “After learning pain management tools through our workshops, he let us know he was no longer taking any pain medications.”

Healthy Living for ME imparts particular goals at the end of every chronic disease workshop session, following up with each participant to make sure those goals are reached. SeniorsPlus has had some impressive feedback from those who have completed various HL4ME programs. “Nearly all our participants would recommend us to a friend,” relates Mills of all HL4ME participants since 2018. Responses show

Teacher pool Workshop instructors come from various backgrounds, based on the requirements of the course. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Doris Surette, Fred DiBello, Joe Gizinski, Celia Gould, Martha Bryant, Stella Chouinard, and Tai Chi Instructor June Turcotte “Some of the teachers are on staff at our agencies, and some are volunteers,” says Mills. “The teachers enjoy the health aspect of the classes, sometimes benefiting as much as their students.”

“We love our volunteers!” Mills exalts. “We couldn’t do what we do without them; they are the heart and soul of our organization.” She invites those interested to contact HL4ME.

HL4ME actively recruits new teachers, striving to get coverage for different parts of Maine. Volunteer teachers do not require extensive experience, only the will to help others.

Research has proven that people with chronic conditions can learn skills to effectively manage their illness and improve health outcomes. HL4ME’s evidence-based programs improve functional abilities, and continue to provide helpful resources to the people of Maine.

“A teacher need not necessarily be a medical professional,” Nelson stresses. “A layperson can become an excellent teacher, following the guidelines of the specific course.” Volunteers often are people who have completed a specific workshop.

Healthy Living for ME www.healthylivingforme.org

Envisioning positivity Healthy Living for ME envisions a future where all Mainers live meaningful lives. This future will depend upon volunteers to presenting the workshops.

Relationships are Key Establishing a relationship with a primary care provider is one of the smartest things you can do to help ensure your long-term health. Through regular primary care visits, you can keep up to date on your preventive care, better manage chronic conditions, and identify potential problems before they can slow you down. Our Primary Care offices are conveniently located in Lewiston, Auburn, and Poland. WELCOMING NEW PATIENTS

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LA METRO MAGAZINE | SPRING 2022


Taking food, fun, and

“giving back” seriously Written by Toby Haber-Giasson | Photography by Brewster Burns

S

hiny chrome and black & white checkerboard. Memorabilia from the 1950s. Breakfast all day and homemade desserts. The clatter of dishes and chatter of wisecracks. What’s not to love about Daddy O’s Diner?

Daddy O’s signature dish, “The Big Daddy O”

But don’t let this cute restaurant fool you – feeding people is serious business here. Those vintage Coca-Cola coolers in the entrance are full of free canned and packaged foods, with the motto: “Leave what you can/take what you need.” In this small town, this diner has become the beating heart of the Oxford community.


days per week. Daddy O’s boasts a heavy roster of retired seniors who come as much for the food as the breezy social interaction. Young families, another large segment of the clientele, appreciate a fun meal out where it’s okay to get a little messy.

Who’s your daddy? Patrons assume Aaron Ouellette is “Daddy O,” but the diner‘s enigmatic name actually comes from a ‘50s hipster term for “dude.” And the cool atmosphere matches the name. Mid-century memorabilia is everywhere alongside Coca-Cola signs of all shapes and sizes, and the women’s restroom is a shrine to movie icon Audrey Hepburn. Early rock ‘n’ roll music flows from the speakers. Chrome stools with red vinyl seats hug the curved counter. A popular diner like this goes through a lot of plates, but Daddy O’s features license plates, about 2,000 in all, covering the walls. The collection, representing all 50 states and 27 countries, reflects America’s ‘50s love affair with car travel. You may see smitten customers wander around staring at the walls while you’re eating. Owners Amanda & Aaron Ouellette

Like clockwork It’s a typical morning at Daddy O’s Diner. Owners Amanda and Aaron Ouellette, their loyal kitchen staff and servers prepare to serve 350-500 customers who will pass through the door that day. This 89-seat diner saw its highest sales in 2019, serving 96,000 meals the year before COVID hit. “Our regulars open up with us in the morning,” Aaron muses. “They turn the lights on at 6 a.m. If you’re late, they’ll tell you.” Take Willie Rice. He comes in at 11:30 a.m., like clockwork. A regular for 14 years, Rice presides at his own seat at the counter six

Amanda Ouellette takes freshly baked bread out of the oven.

Daddy’s favorites Daddy O’s is open 6 a.m.-2 p.m. daily, serving lunch and all-day breakfast. Bestsellers?

Regular customer Willie Rice 16

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SPRING 2022

The “Big Daddy O” features a generous plate of three eggs, three sausage links, three bacon strips, home fries, and toast for $8.99. If you’re really hungry, the “Bigger Daddy O” is all that plus two giant pancakes or French toast for $11.49. Customers get the “wow” factor of big portions, but the food is affordable enough so they can come every day.


License plates adorn the walls of Daddy O’s. Diner mainstays like meatloaf and chicken potpie are in demand alongside creative specials like the BBQ Pork Parfait. The kitchen can make gluten-free and vegan dishes upon request. Kids will love “Lewiston Lobster” (red hot dogs) or Unicorn Waffles, topped with whipped cream, colored jimmies, and cotton candy ice cream.

Happy together The Ouellettes’ secret to living and working together is separate roles. They stay on their respective sides of the red door between the kitchen and “front of the house.” “I’m the brains,” Amanda chides, “and he’s the beauty!” They met at Edward Little High School 25 years ago. After marrying, they left Maine to pursue careers in the world of corporate restaurants. They came back in 2001 to raise a family. In 2008, Amanda opened a small café, and moved to a larger location in 2015, with double the seating.

“After the first day we reopened, I told Aaron, ‘I need you,’” recalls Amanda. He answered the call. “She’s got one employee: me,” Aaron reports, “and I deal with everyone else.”

Giving back Daddy O’s helps the community in many ways. A dozen years ago, the diner started a tradition of serving a free Thanksgiving meal with food donated by community members. Although the meal is free, folks insist on donating money, so the Ouellettes have used it to help needy families with their heating costs over the winter. This year, they provided nearly 500 Thanksgiving meals. Donations allowed them to give $2,500 each to the towns of Norway, Oxford, and Paris, to help people who don’t qualify for general assistance. “We were at that point once in our lives,” Amanda sympathizes.

Aaron Ouellette takes inventory of the food pantry. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Front: Aaron and Amanda Ouellette Back: Rachael Tremmel, Mallory Gordon, Kailee Forti, Leah Hersom, Shelby Whiles, & Amber Croteau In 2015, the couple decided to offer a monthly community dinner where the diner purchases and prepares the food. Patrons can eat free, but many make a donation. To ensure those donations stay separate from the diner’s funds, the Ouellettes formed the Daddy O’s Acts of Kindness Foundation. Last year, the foundation started “12 Days of Christmas,” a new event benefiting one nonprofit and one food pantry each day, donating an impressive total of $16,500. Every donation is used to stock the food pantry in their lobby or to help community nonprofits. The foundation also hosts an Annual Car Show in September with over 100 vintage vehicles on display. While admission and food are free, donations raised almost $17,000 this year. Proceeds went to Oxford County Special Olympics and other area nonprofits. “Donating our time to help others ‘fills our cup,’” Aaron explains.

Blue plate blues When COVID hit in April 2020, Oxford seemed like a ghost town: no regulars and no tourists. Knowing locals were hurting, Daddy O’s launched Free Food Fridays – a drive-thru takeout offering free food to all customers.

“We averaged 250 meals each Friday,” Aaron recalls. “Most people bought their meals and paid it forward.” Donations fueled the program for three months, sustaining both the diner and the community. The formula stuck; community dinners are now offered drive-thru style, every other month. The state’s “takeout only” mandate led the diner to launch an online ordering system, which has become quite popular. Plexiglass partitions are also here to stay. “We never would have done these without COVID,” Aaron asserts.

Diners are a grill’s best friend The Ouellettes feel fortunate to have been carried through COVID by their close-knit community. “We give back,” Aaron reasons, “because people are generous with their patronage.” Daddy O’s Diner is much more than just a place to get great food and great service. It’s a local institution, supporting and caring for the Oxford community in so many ways. Daddy O’s Diner 1570 Main Street, Suite 10, Oxford • www.daddyosoxford.com

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Health care for all Maine’s Communities Written by T.S. Chamberland | Photography by David Fuller

Q

uality of life. These words are at the heart of Maine’s largest nonprofit health care organization and all that they do. In 1966, the vision of a small group of nurses and caregivers in the community around caring for homebound people took shape. On the heels of Medicare creating homecare benefits, Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice (AHHH) was founded. “The founding mission, if you will, was to take care of those who were homebound,” Ken Albert, CEO says. “And that has not changed over time.”


Home health care in Maine While the Medicare benefit was the driver for modern home care, AHHH has grown and refined its services as well as the geographic area they reach. Hospice care, also known as end of life care, was added to the services offered by the nonprofit organization in the early 1980s, and other specialized avenues of care followed. The recent acquisition of Care & Comfort increased AHHH’s staff to 800 and its service area to all 16 counties, making it the largest, independent, nonprofit home health care organization in Maine. Albert explains that the organization’s board of directors chose to grow their area and staff to expand the mission of their work into more rural areas. “Unfortunately, not all of those communities have access to quality health care at home or quality community-based services,” Albert says. “That’s part of the gift of Androscoggin; the focus on those rural communities to create access in much of rural Maine, and that’s the goal.” AHHH provides a mix of medical and home care services that without, says Vance Brown, chief medical officer, would leave a void in care for many. Boasting one of the largest aging populations in the country, Maine is also home to a large rural population, often far removed from the proximity of health care facilities, making it challenging to coordinate and deliver health care services to patients’ homes where most would prefer to receive care. “It’s a remarkable run overall in terms of community service for the organization, in my opinion,” Brown expressed. “The ability to deliver a continuum of care for patients in their home setting is really, really key.”

Vance Brown Federal regulations require all nonprofit health care organizations across the country to perform a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) every two years. Maine conducts this assessment county by county and the health care systems collaborate on producing the data needed for the CHNA. This year, behavioral health ranked as the number one gap in health care in every county in the state. Albert says that while they have long worked with behavioral health organizations like Tri-County Mental Health Services, AHHH decided to add behavioral health as another area of health care focus. “We have expanded to not only the Medicare enrolled, skilled care services, as well as hospice, we now are offering behavioral health services and home care services,” Albert explains. “Now we’ve got that full scope; everything from home care all the way through behavioral health, home health to palliative care to end of life (hospice) care.”

Bridging gaps with palliative care In seeking to improve the country’s health outcomes, the U.S. uses a guiding strategy known as the Triple Aim: care, health, and cost. Albert explains this as quality care coupled with population health management, the economics of health care (improve quality while driving down costs), and the patient and family experience (while in health care). When considering the population of the seriously ill, the question is how to decrease the cost of the overall care, while maintaining the quality of care and the overall patient experience. “Palliative care really is an embodiment of the Triple Aim,” Albert summarizes. The multi-disciplinary approach consists of physicians, advanced practice nurses, social workers, and nurses, who work together to assist patients in navigating the health care system through their illness, to either progress onto hospice care or recover.

Ken Albert 22

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SPRING 2022

“In Western medicine, we focus on curative and prolonging life as the primary mission,” Albert explains. “Palliative medicine integrates that curative model with a recognition of the fact that life is not endless.”


By T.S. Chamberland | Photography by David Fuller | Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice the gap and make this specialized area of medicine “part of the overall culture of medicine.”

Hospice House: a warm and comforting environment The nonprofit has the oldest hospice house in the state. One that was built to provide comfort to people, as well as their families and loved ones, at end of life. Brown describes Hospice House as an extension of the care and comfort of home that they strives to provide in all areas of care. It is a place for those whose illness and treatment have become too difficult or challenging to be administered in their home, but still want to live the remainder of their life in a comforting and warm space. “Our program does a fantastic job of trying to meet the patient and family’s needs in the home setting,” Brown explains.

Angela Richards By integrating palliative care, Albert says that AHHH has helped create an environment where patients “are able to work with medical professionals to identify what is important to them as they navigate through their illness.” Palliative care can range from 18 to 24 months, with hospice care consisting of the last six months of life. “We like to use the expression that ‘all hospice is part of palliative medicine, but not all palliative medicine is hospice’,” Brown says. “The difference overall is hospice is kind of a subset of what we do.” AHHH has launched a palliative care fellowship program for advanced practice nurses through the Maine Center for Palliative Medicine (MCPM), which was founded in January 2021. There are only eight such programs in the U.S., all around large, urban, academic centers. MCPM’s fellowship, which has already accepted applications, will focus on Maine’s rural areas, the first of its kind in the nation. A curriculum around palliative medicine, explains Albert, much like cardiac and pulmonary medicine, can bridge

Occasionally, he says, a patient’s care needs can become more significant than can be provided at home. The ability to have a home-like environment where there are specially trained nurses, essential medical equipment, and more, is a huge resource in meeting a patient’s individual care needs. “It’s a wonderful option for a lot of our patients who are at end of life,” explains Angela Richards RN, director of health and informatics. “It allows the patient and their family to spend time together in a very comfortable, home-like environment.” Palliative and hospice care provide patients with options and the ability to decide what their care looks like. Staff work with patients to guide them in what is available and help them outline what the path of their care will be, giving people respect, dignity, and quality of life when they need it most.

Home health care for all ages Continuum of care consists of a personal care assistance service, home nursing care, palliative medicine, and hospice. Brown elaborated that many of the patients the organization treats prefer to be cared for and seen in their own surroundings over a hospital or long-term care facility whenever possible.

Nurse Bambi Rousseau demonstrates care to Hospice House volunteer Alan Elze. (Editor’s Note: This is a staged scene in a patient room. Elze is not an actual patient.)

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Home care AHHH plays a vital role in the health care and overall well-being of the communities they serve, from newborns to the elderly, . The services the organization offers allow people to age in place at home, be supported in their chronic disease management, and to find resources that allow them to be where it is most beneficial to heal and be taken care of with family and friends. Home is where many patients are during their illness and treatment, and having the support necessary to manage that all in the environment that they spend the most time in is crucial to overall well-being. “Overall, I think everyone, when they’re not well, wants to be home,” Richards says.

Cyndi Robbins “I think the organization does a fantastic job with being able to provide those kinds of services throughout the continuum,” Brown explained. “Those are really important to provide to the community, to be able to meet the care needs of people who have serious illness, and sometimes for those whose life expectancy is rather limited.” Advances in technology and equipment have enabled the organization to respond to the shift in acute care treatment from being hospital-focused to more home setting by offering a wider array of care services in patients’ homes. From telehealth technologies to equipment placed in the home that can measure vital signs and other aspects of the patient’s overall health, health care teams at AHHH are able to assess and provide care to people without them having to go out to an office or facility. “If you could get the same level and quality of service without having to leave home when you’re not feeling well, that’s a tremendous advantage,” Brown says. Pediatric patients are primarily served by the organization’s home health team. Children with developmental needs, speech and occupational therapy, and infants needing assistance to become thriving, make up part of the near 300 daily cases the home health team services. There is also a specially trained team of nurses who focus on the care of children with serious illness and those needing pediatric palliative medicine. The transitional care team was created to help people who might not be able to physically or logistically get to their doctor’s office to manage their care. Richards describes the program as more community coordination than home visits, and a unique offering for the organization. For many, it’s the social deterrents and not the disease or illness affecting their capacity to be successful and healthy. “When you’re worrying about putting food on the table or shelter, getting medications and taking them appropriately or following up with your doctor is low on your hierarchy of needs,” Richards explains. 24

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The underlying theme of the organization’s mission is that no one goes without care. In addition to providing a variety of care avenues, Cyndi Robbins, former board member and longtime supporter, says that the nonprofit offers a program called Life Matters/Andro Gives. Further emphasizing the organization’s focus on life over death and illness. The program began more than four years ago with a fund that allows any clinician to apply on behalf of a patient who may need something to improve their quality of life so that they can get the most out of their care. By removing or improving certain non-medical blockers from their life, the fund helps a number of people stay in their homes and experience success in their care management. For example, when a person with breathing problems like COPD lives in hot, uncomfortable conditions, it becomes challenging to effectively manage their care. An air conditioner takes the environmental factor out of the situation, allowing the patient to experience more effective care results.

Well-deserved accolades Robbins’ husband, who passed away in 2007, received home health care due to complications with Alzheimer’s Disease. At the time, Robbins says she knew little of what the nonprofit had to offer. Two years later in 2009, she became a member of the board of directors, and today maintains her involvement with the organization through participation on both the fundraising committee and the Professional Advisory Committee. Robbins says her understanding of the needs and concerns of both the patients the organization serves and the care givers and staff providing that care has continued to grow. “It’s a team working together to make this all happen,” says Robbins. “I can’t say enough good about this organization. They continue to make me proud that I live in this community.” Albert, who also chairs the board for the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, says that AHHH is consistently ranked in the top 25 percent of health care providers in the country. Their work and approach to the service they offer has consistently influenced state and federal policy around health care in the home, in an effort to offer these services to Maine people. “Androscoggin (Home Healthcare + Hospice) is a highly respected organization across the country for the model of how we are structured as a nonprofit deliverer of health care,” Albert says. Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice 15 Strawberry Avenue, Lewiston • androscoggin.org


Dancing on Tradition Written by Linda Leiva | Photography by Jose Leiva

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or the Camire School of Dance and The Dance Center, “tradition” is a word that helps define the dance experience they offer here in the twin cities. “Family” is also a word that rings true, as both studios draw upon their histories and passion for dance. The long-running studios each began in Lewiston, both moving to Auburn, where they now thrive. They both emphasize the strong commitment to the fundamentals of dance, giving attention to proper positioning, body development, technique, safety, and hard work. All contribute to the making of a skilled dancer.


Linda Camire with young students Nora Camire, Nadia Yama, Emma Gove, Jennifer Yama (behind), and Natalie Camire

Camire School of Dance The Camire School of Dance has its roots in the Evelyn Dyer Clarke Studio where Lois Camire was an assistant. She acquired the studio, which became the Camire School of Dance, in the mid-1960s. Camire headed the studio until 2000 when, in the middle of recital season in 2000, she passed away. Her daughter-in-law, Linda Camire, had been dancing with Lois since the age of seven and wondered what would become of the studio. “My mom said, ‘Find a spot and open up,’” she recalls. Taking over the studio, Linda began another generation teaching students to love dance. “I had 75 students, now I have 165!” “We consider ourselves to be a recreational studio,” Camire says of the vibe. “Having fun and learning the disciplines to the level of

interest students have.” The studio offers lessons in ballet, jazz, acrobatics, tap, hip-hop, and contemporary dance. Students range in age from three years to adult, and all have a place in Camire’s heart and repertoire. There are multi-generational families who take classes: father and daughter; grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter; and Lois Camire’s great grandchild; clearly dance is for all ages. Varying ages present a challenge for instruction, yet Camire takes it all in stride.

Three generations of dancers: Kathy Bilier, Emma Carmichael, & Lynn Carmichael 26

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“We start with play positions, small body movements such as a jump, hop, skip, or tiptoe,” she says of the very young students. “Attention span is important. By age eight, students usually focus on one genre of dance.”

Gabriella Gerry


By Linda Leiva | Photography by Jose Leiva | Dancing on Tradition

Camire Competition Team Front: Alyssa Tremblay & Hannah Johndro Middle: Elizabeth Gove, Breya Whitman, & Emma Meserve Back: Abigail Labonte, Lauren Hodgkins, Olivia Desmarais, & Gabriella Gerry

Dance team

“Dance makes you smart,” Pullen says, “an analytical thinker,”

Camire‘s studio trains a dance team of 10-20 dancers. The team is more highly technical than the skill level Camire strives for in her weekly lessons. The team was twice selected to perform at Downtown Disney.

The Dance Center offers ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, and creative movement to its 200 students. The tradition of classical ballet is of prime importance, although Pullen herself takes hip-hop lessons at her own studio.

“Students are judged on technique, genre, stage presence, and costume,” Camire states. Competition is fierce. Make up, eyelashes, and every aspect of appearance is judged alongside the skill. “It was amazing for me to see my students perform,” she adds. “Disney taught me the secrets of staging and keeping one’s place onstage.” Camire says, “I would love to have had this experience in my youth!” The studio does conduct fundraising for the team to pay for travel, hotels, and specialized costuming.

The Dance Center Celebrating its 31st year, The Dance Center began when Elizabeth Hansen created the studio, drawing on her own strong roots in ballet. Hansen’s mother had danced professionally and Hansen had studied dance with the renowned Melissa Hayden. This inspired her to form a studio in Maine that became The Dance Center. Hansen’s daughter, Amelia Pullen, bought the studio in the summer of 2020, continuing the family legacy. Informed by her college degree in dance, as well as her formative training with her mother, Pullen knows the importance of learning control of mind and body.

Elizabeth Hansen & Amelia Pullen LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Ayanthi Reese, Alita Crosson, Christina Tancrede, Kaia Hayashida, Aliza Pullen, & Lily Vermilion perform “The Waltz of the Flowers” from A Nutcracker Christmas wearing costumes hand-made by Lana Hall. “It is like teaching a language,” Pullen explains. She and Hansen enjoy giving their students a “classical experience” where classical music is part of the lessons and expression in dance. Students work on technique: position, body movements, presence, poise, and grace. Manners are just as important. It is proper to applaud the instructor at the end of a lesson… to curtsy, bow, and to respect what has been taught.

Yet, as she says, “How expensive is hockey?”

“The discipline of dance instills a mindset, and that in turn develops into a life of appreciation, not only for the art, but for discipline in life itself,” she adds.

“Some students dance 10-12 hours a week,” says Pullen. “Their costs for this level of training are prorated to a monthly cost of $265 or more.” Camire says lessons at her studio can run upward of $40 per class, prorated for students who add more than one weekly class.

From this perspective, she knows safety and proper body development in the formative years and beyond is crucial. “We need to teach how to be safe,” says Pullen. “We pay attention to ligaments, tendons, and bones.”

Costumes and recitals Recitals and performances add another dimension to dance school. “All students deserve the sparkle and glitz of a great costume,” enthuses Camire. Costumes can range from $60-$100 or more. 28

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“We spend $13,000 - $15,000 on costumes for recital,” Pullen says, “Parents share the cost of this, but students keep their costumes.” Pullen has invested $20,000 in costumes for the annual Nutcracker performance, staged each holiday season at the Gendron Franco Center with about 100 ballet students.

Pandemic and dance “I really didn’t know if we’d have a business to reopen,” Camire said of the pandemic time. “We lost 45-50 kids; this year we are back to normal.” Audience size for recital was limited by COVID seating restrictions. Masking was also tough to work with. “So much of dance is in expression and I could not communicate that to students,” she adds. “The pandemic hit just when I took over the business,” recalls Pullen. The Dance Center shifted to Zoom and produced a movie


By Linda Leiva | Photography by Jose Leiva | Dancing on Tradition production of the Nutcracker with local help from Ramsey Tripp. “Dance was meant to be live,” emphasizes Pullen. “There was no feedback from the audience.” In 2021, when they performed their annual Nutcracker, Pullen reports, “The energy was through the roof. We sold out three shows!”

Tradition and life Despite the challenges, the passion for dance and tradition remains. Both studios are thriving.

Jaden Ouellette

“We’re here and we’re sticking around. We’ve stood the test,” Camire assures. “My daughter now has lessons,” says Pullen. Thus the tradition lives. Dance in LA is alive and thriving for enjoyment, artistic expression, and for life lessons. Vive le danse! Camire School of Dance 252 Washington Street, Auburn • www.camiredance.com The Dance Center 16 Western Avenue, Auburn • www.thedancecenterla.com Ayanthi Reese

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Labor of Love: The art of brewing

Written by J.G. Breerwood | Photography by Jose Leiva

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hen referring to the Maine craft beer scene, several things can come to mind such as popular beer styles, catchy logos, or images of bearded men wearing overalls. But what about the actual process and act of making the beer that many of us proudly enjoy? After all, it’s the art of brewing that puts the “craft” into the craft beer. “The beauty of beer,” says Willis Croninger, head brewer at Side By Each Brewing Co., “is that brewers are innovating with every new batch.”


the caramelized malt flavor and color of an Irish Red in addition to the unmistakable essence of the Belgian yeast. All styles of beer are typically defined by a dominant feature or ingredient. IPAs are defined by hoppiness, whether “juicy” or bitter. Sours are tart, due to strains of bacteria such as lactobacillus. Stouts and Oktoberfests get their rich flavor from specialty grains. And Belgian beer takes on its identity from its yeast. The German Purity Law of 1516, or Reinheitsgebot, decrees that beer can only be comprised of four ingredients: malt, hops, yeast, and water. Outside of Germany, the law is widely unobserved since many American breweries add anything from oats to flower petals in their beers. While this law restricts innovation, understanding the importance of each of these ingredients is vital to understanding the art of brewing.

Quality water Water, though less exciting than the other three ingredients, is just as vital in making quality beer, influencing aspects from mouth feel to target flavor profiles. Brewers seek to manipulate the pH level in order to recreate the beer style’s attributes. Gypsum and calcium chloride are common treatments for brewers to reach their target pH to manifest their desired style or profile. “Our city water is very soft so we have to add some minerals,” Low says. “We also use acidulated malt to dial in the pH.”

Mashup Taproom Manager Casey Peacock and Owner Ben Low

A pressing matter Maine has certainly earned its place in the national brewing spotlight, and breweries like Side By Each Brewing Co. (SXE) in Auburn continue to create new, innovative recipes. LA Metro Magazine featured SXE in its Spring 2020 issue because of its wide variety of ales and lagers. The magazine has teamed up with the Auburn brewing mainstay to not only discuss brewing as a labor of love, but also to help actually craft a unique brew on their lineup: the “Hot Off the Press” Belgian Red Ale. Ben Low, SXE co-founder and owner, is excited about the collaboration. Low explains that the concept originated from a casual conversation with the LA Metro Magazine Editor-in-Chief Tyla Davis, and Publisher/CEO Jimbo Marston, when they shared their favorite brews: Davis liked red ales and Marston enjoyed Belgians. “Patrons who saw the red Belgian on our upcoming beer list,” recalls Casey Peacock, SXE taproom manager, “were really excited and couldn’t wait for it to be on tap.”

A yeasty history It is common for regional styles to be steeped in tradition, such as the Czech Pilsner or the English bitter. Although Belgian beer dates back a millennium, a red Belgian ale is not a typical style. “There isn’t much history to the red Belgian,” Peacock says. “It’s one of those experimental beers. It’s like if an Irish Red and a Belgian Blonde had a baby.” In other words, the red Belgian has 32

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The “malt” is the next ingredient in this process, and this is when the craft really comes into play. Raw grains, mostly of barley and wheat, are steeped to allow germination and then dried in a kiln to derive the desired character, which will in turn give a beer its color and character. Wheat and Pilsner malt keep beers lighter in color, while roasted malts make browns and stouts. For clarification, this process happens in a separate malting facility, not onsite at a brewery. Side By Each gets their malt from a variety of malting companies, both large and small. Many big “maltsters” are located in Europe and the American Pacific Northwest. Side By Each also gets specialty malt from local companies, such as Blue Ox Malthouse in Lisbon Falls. Just as a head chef creates a recipe for a succulent dish, the brewer then devises a “malt bill” comprised of different kinds of malt, to give the beer its backbone. “We’re using a German red malt,” Low says, “and some British malts to get the color we’re looking for.” The malt bill is milled into a metal vessel, called the “mash tun,” and then steeps in the treated hot water for a long time. The brewer will then check the pH levels of the “mash” to make sure to maximize the sugar extraction from the crushed grains, but also to achieve the desired taste profile. “The mashing process is essentially making porridge with the goal of extracting the sweet, sugary starch from the malt, which is called wort,” says Croninger. If the pH of the mash is off, it can come through in the flavor. For perspective, lower pHs (in the range of 3-4) are typical for sour beers whereas higher pHs (ranging between 4 and 6) are ideal for most other dry or bitter brews.


Brewer Willis Croninger milling the malt for the Hot Off the Press beer


Hop to it Once the mash is complete, the wort is transferred over to the boil kettle, where any remaining live organic matter is killed off. If any living organisms exist, it could compete with, or possibly even infect, the yeast strain, which could ruin the beer. Hops are then added for bittering and aroma. Hops play a much larger role in the process than simply being the last addition to a hazy IPA. Hops, in their natural form, look like small soft, green pine cones and grow on vines like grapes. While it is not uncommon for breweries to use “whole” hops while brewing specialty batches, hop pellets are the dominant form that is used in the brewing process. They give brewers more control in achieving the desired level of bitterness because they are more concentrated and have a set alpha acid percentage to allow for consistency. Without hops, beer would be overtly sweeter, and essentially, not “beer” at all. Instead, it would be called “gruit,” beer’s ancestor before hops were widely available. Although some beers could be sweeter than others, they still have a significant amount hops in them, even if they are not considered to be hoppy. Most beers will have multiple hop additions in a 60-minute boil. Depending on the beer style and volume of the brew, the hop pellets could be measured in ounces or pounds. The first round happens at the start, and these are typically used for bitterness in order to stifle the wort’s sweetness. Later additions can happen intermittently throughout the boil if desired, depending on the beer being brewed. Later additions of pellet hops at the end of the boil affect the beers flavor and aroma more directly. Just as with the malt, Side By Each uses hop varieties that are typical for the Belgian style.

“We’re using Czech Saaz, which is traditional in German and Belgian beers,” Low says. “It gives it a clean bitterness and some light, peppery notes.” An addition of Belgian “candi” sugar to the boil will also “lighten the body and make the beer less sweet.” While the hops’ bitterness is absorbed by the boiled wort, much of its physical substance is not and needs to be separated before being transferred into a fermenting vessel. A common, yet simple, method of solid separation is known as the “whirlpool,” where the boiled wort is transferred out of the brew kettle as Croninger describes in a “cyclone motion.” This process allows any solids or proteins, or the “trub,” to collect at the bottom of the vessel.

Yeast feast The next thing the brewer must do is to ensure the wort is cooled properly before pitching the yeast because high temperatures will kill it. The hot wort travels through a heat exchanger, an apparatus that cools the traveling wort rapidly to the desired temperature for pitching in the fermenter. For fermenting most ales, like Hot Off the Press, the temperature ranges from 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas lagers ferment much longer at a colder temperature of 56 degrees. Belgian abbey yeast derives its name from days of yore when Trappist monks brewed ales in their abbeys. This yeast grants Belgian ales a uniquely complex flavor profile. In the end, the beer’s flavor and aroma will be more floral and fruitier than your typical German lager or English ale, and may even have hints of clove or banana without actually using them.

Croninger mixes the malt with water in the lauter tun (also known as the mash tun).


By J.G. Breerwood | Photography by Jose Leiva | The art of brewing Peacock describes Hot off the Press as being, “stronger than a typical red ale, but with some complex flavors from the Belgian yeast.” The fermentation period is a waiting game for the brewers, as they maintain temperatures and monitor how much sugar the yeast consumes, thus how much alcohol it produces, by taking “gravity” readings. The first gravity reading will be taken from the wort before fermentation and that will measure how much dissolved sugar is in the liquid. The yeast then gorges until it cannot any longer. For more perspective, when the yeast eats the sugars, it “burps” out the alcohol. Brewers than take readings regularly, and the last reading should be much lower than the first if all goes as planned. The difference will indicate the alcohol by volume (ABV) the beer will have.

Chilling Out Once fermentation is complete, in about one week, the Belgian Red is manifested, but not quite finished. It is then cold conditioned for two weeks around 32 degrees Fahrenheit to help settle out any more solids, which makes for a much clearer finished product. During this time the beer partially carbonates naturally under head pressure in the tank. In order to get the exact level of carbonation desired, they inject carbon dioxide directly into the beer using a “carb stone,” which is like a porous spear that can connect to a CO2 line from the outside while still remaining sanitary. It is to be noted also that the brewer must be meticulous about cleanliness. All the parts, tanks, pipes, hoses, or tools must be either soaked in a sanitary solution or sprayed with Isopropyl alcohol to maintain a sanitary environment so that bacteria do not infect the beer at any point in the process. “I feel particularly happy to make this beer because Belgians are among my favorites and my first favorite craft beer was a red ale,” Croninger says. “We’ve checked two boxes at once with this brew.”

Imbibe the vibe The final step in the art of brewing is the part most people know well: enjoying it! Hot Off the Press Belgian Red Ale is now available on tap at Side By Each, so stay awhile with a cold glass or fill a growler on the go. This nascent experimental brew was officially released March 19 at Side By Each with lots of good folks, food, and fun. The Smith Col-

Abigail Bowie pours a Hot Off the Press. laboration, a Central Maine-based four-person band (see Soundcheck story on page 50), played live at the event. Their casual and upbeat style certainly set the good vibe that was felt by all. Team members from both Side By Each and LA Metro Magazine reaped the benefits from their respective labors of love, good beer and good journalism don’t come easily without hard work, but both are worth the effort, especially in collaboration. Side by Each Brewing Co. 1110 Minot Avenue, Auburn • sidebyeachbrewing.com Read more about Side by Each Brewing Co. in our Spring 2020 issue at:

www.LAMetroMagazine.com

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Graining out the leftover mash

ide By Each Brewing Co. isn’t even a year old. But in February 2020, it charted in the top five Maine breweries, measured by Housemethod.com, for popularity on social media. Considering the number of Maine breweries has skyrocketed to well over a hundred since the first one in 1986, this is no small feat. How did they do it? By reaching for third place.

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HOT OFF THE PRESS

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SOCIAL HOUR Highlighting great places to go and things to do in our communities.

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Written by Sara Poulin | Photography by Nicole Rand

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or nearly a decade, Sparetime Recreation on Mollison Way in Lewiston was on the market. The previous owners searched for a suitable buyer to take over the bowling alley, which was in serious need of some upgrades. In 2021, with no prospective buyers, and no desire to limp through another year, Sparetime sent a letter to members of the bowling community letting them know that they would be closing their doors permanently. Justin Juray and his wife, Samantha, didn’t want to see that happen. LA Metro Magazine sat down with Justin Juray to learn more about the transition from Sparetime to Just-In-Time Recreation and to find out what inspired the couple to buy a bowling alley.


Owners Samantha & Justin Juray

Makeover

Right up their alley

Walking through the doors of Just-In-Time Recreation today, it’s hard to believe that, not that long ago, this business was about to close its doors forever. The smell of delicious food fills the air; people are seated at the bar enjoying dinner and a beverage. The sounds of children laughing and playing video games, pool balls bumping, and the clatter of pins fill the air, as adults and children alike bowl a few rounds. For a chilly weeknight in midwinter, Just-In-Time is quite busy.

The Jurays are no strangers to bowling. Having been longtime members of a bowling league at Sparetime, they had spent many evenings and weekends bowling along with their peers. While bowling isn’t new, owning their own business was a different story.

Justin Juray and his wife Samantha purchased the old Sparetime Recreation in April 2021 and began renovations right away.

“Without the work and dedication of our friends and family, the reopening of the bowling alley wouldn’t have been possible.” According to Juray, a lot of time and services were donated to the cause.

“It was almost overwhelming, the amount of work that needed to be done,” says co-owner Justin. With a background in construction, Juray was able to handle many of the renovations himself, along with the help of his friends and family. The renovations are numerous. There’s a newly constructed bar made from repurposed bowling alley lanes. The kitchen has been updated and expanded, along with a new dining area with unique tables made by Samantha Juray from discarded bottle caps and topped off with a glossy finish. Walls have been taken out in some places. New ones were put up, creating a new office space for the Jurays and the staff. Both bathrooms have been remodeled and there are clean, updated lanes and brand-new pins on the alleys. It’s hard to picture what Just-In-Time Recreation used to look like. Just-In-Time Recreation’s official first day was August 27, 2021. Since that time, Justin has had one day off – a snow day this past January. He laughs and waves it off. It’s clear there isn’t any place he’d rather be. “It’s been a blessing, amazing.” Juray states, “It’s not work when you love doing it.” He chuckles as he continues, throwing his hands out, “I was spending money to be here; now I make money being here!”

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New bottle cap table tops, created by Samantha Juray, are part of the newly renovated bar area.


By Sara Poulin | Photography by Nicole Rand | Just-In-Time Recreation

Dave Wyman takes his turn during league play. Even the old machine repairman who had retired from Sparetime came back and offered to help get things back to working order, and he isn’t the only one. With the renovations made, many bowlers who had given up and moved their games to Portland or other bigger bowling centers have returned to Just-In-Time Recreation.

All things in time Everything happens for a reason, and Just-In-Time seems to be blessed with good fortune and good timing. Juray recounts the numerous times when either he or his wife had concerns or doubts about whether things would be completed. From securing financing to the arrival of countertops or finishing up the details of certain renovations, there was always a question of whether or not things would work out or fit their timetable. Gradually things came together and fit like puzzle pieces. It became a running joke among their friends and their families to say, “Don’t worry, it will happen just in time.” All of those instances naturally lead the Jurays to dub their bowling alley Just-In-Time.

Knocking them down

The Jurays have also hosted trivia nights and fundraisers, most recently a food drive for The Store Next Door and a Monte Carlo Night where they collected warm hats, mittens, and socks for the less fortunate. They want to give back to the community that has been so supportive of them as they navigate this new adventure.

Playing the game The Jurays continue to work together, enjoying the time they get to share at Just-In-Time. Samantha’s good business sense and management skills and Justin’s passion for the sport continue to propel them forward. Their hope is to grow the business enough to be able to offer clinics with professional bowlers as well as a hope to expand the center to include other types of recreation, a kind of giant indoor playground for all to enjoy. For now their focus is on giving back to and growing in the community, while providing a fun family friendly environment for all to enjoy. Just-In-Time Recreation 24 Mollison Way, Lewiston • www.justintimebowl.com

With 22 lanes for traditional 10-pin bowling and 12 for candlepin bowling, a New England favorite, there is plenty of room for a multitude of bowlers. Just-In-Time also has a small arcade which, along with their extensive, updated menu and bar offerings, make it a great place for the whole family to enjoy. People of all ages are encouraged to get out and bowl. “It’s fun,” Juray states. “Everyone can do it!”

Don’t stay in your lane Along with bowling, there are plenty of events to take part in at Just-in-Time, including league nights as well as a Saturday kid’s league, corporate/private parties, and tournaments. Glow bowling is so popular that you need to reserve your lane in advance. Visits with summer and school vacation camps are also a big hit.

Dominic Dyer eats some pizza from Just-In-Time’s revamped menu. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Ariel and Richard Patrie use a bowling ramp to guide the ball.

Avery Patrie watches her ball roll down the lane.

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Haleigh and Tianna Saucier play the Terminator Salvation game in the arcade.

Kelsey Johnson uses a retractable handled ball to help with her throw.


The Right Stuff Written by Donna Keene Rousseau | Photography by Brewster Burns

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t’s an early Saturday morning in mid-January, in the Maine Mall parking lot. Despite the numbing cold, a small group of individuals gather around Christy Gardner’s SUV. As Gardner raises the hatch, eager dogs emerge, leashes attached, tails wagging.

Today is Mission Working Dogs training day; the people gathered are handlers and puppy raisers who work under Gardner’s instruction to prepare these dogs for service and therapy work.

Ffej Caplan teaches Tundra to find a prescription bottle.

For the next two hours, the dogs will be put through their paces inside the mall, with direction from Gardner, who provides support and correction when needed. The dogs will learn to navigate crowds, resist stimuli, identify and avoid hazards, manage handicapped entrance and exit buttons, conquer escalators, visit restrooms, and restaurant settings – all to prepare them for a life of service.


Dog’s life Christy Gardner has a clear understanding of duty, loyalty, and selfless service – three of the U.S. Army’s core values. She was serving as a U.S. Army sergeant when, in 2006, she sustained severe injuries, including damage to her spinal cord, that ultimately resulted in a double, below-the-knee amputation. The ordeal impacted Gardner’s life in more ways than one. In 2010, she received her first service dog, Moxie, a golden retriever trained as an assistance and seizure alert/response dog. Moxie proved to be a life-changer for Gardner. Whether at home or on the road to U.S. Paralympic Games, the pair is a team. “She brought peace of mind to my family,” Gardner says of Moxie, “and made it possible for me to live on my own again.”

Mission Working Dogs Gardner was volunteering with a local breeder of Labrador retrievers when she was first approached by service dog agencies in search of puppies for their programs. By this time, Gardner understood firsthand the value of a service dog. She learned from different trainers, adapting what she liked best from each to develop her own style. Developing skills as a puppy raiser, she eventually raised ten pups to become working dogs.

Christy Gardner

LA METROatMAGAZINE | SPRING 44 Volunteers Mission Working Dogs2022

Recognizing Maine’s unmet need for service dogs, Gardner set forth on a new mission. She founded Mission Working Dogs (MWD) in July 2020 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals living with disabilities through


Gardner with Ranger the aid of purpose-bred and trained service dogs. She is certified through CCPDT, or Certified Council for Professional Dog Training. MWD service dogs are trained to perform specific skills to mitigate a handler’s disability. Day-to-day duties include fetching dropped items, retrieving medicine, opening doors, and turning lights on and off. Among the learned tasks of a therapy dog are recognizing increased anxiety and providing deep pressure therapy to calm. A certified service dog is permitted, by law, to accompany its handler wherever public access is allowed (with very few exceptions). The multi-step process for service training includes applications, health checks, 250-hour training and successful testing in

skills and public access. Candidates for dogs are required to raise $4,000 for MWD privately or by attending organization fundraisers. Privately owned dogs must receive veterinarian approval before they can be MWD-trained. Therapy dogs must receive prior authorization from each facility they enter. Therapy dog training follows a similar process, less the fundraising, but lasts one year, with options for group sessions or private sessions for an additional fee. These dogs focus on serving community groups including schools, nursing homes, and hospitals, providing comfort through interaction and physical presence. It takes many hands to meet the mission. MWD’s team consists of seven individuals at the core of operation, in addition to general LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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development and select those displaying the top-tier traits for service. Although retrievers are often seen in service roles, Gardner says there is no “best breed” for service work. She says identifying pups with a propensity for service early can sometimes be achieved through temperament testing, an observation process exposing pups to different people, dogs, and obstacles. However, a dog’s traits can also be revealed later. One of Gardner’s dogs didn’t click with therapy training so Gardner suggested task-training. Now training for service, that dog is at the top of her class. Not all dogs are meant for service work. Gardner’s retriever, Libby, began training for service, but did not respond to working tasks on command. Instead, she has displayed qualities of a therapy dog with her affinity for special-needs children. Gardner says Libby may also make a great rescue or cadaver dog, based on her natural aptitudes. “Libby is faster and more agile than any golden retriever I have ever seen, walking a road and darting into the woods, returning immediately with animal parts,” she points out. “As a puppy, she found a human in a swamp.” Just as not all dogs are suited to work, not all graduate training. These “career-change dogs” go on to become highly-trained pets. There is an adoption fee and MWD’s adoption process gives careful consideration to assure a good match.

Raising up pup Good puppies-in-training need puppy raisers and finding them is one of MWD’s greatest challenges. Raisers work closely with MWD pups, bringing them into their families and workplace, and exposing them to the world, preparing them to serve others. The number one criterion for a raiser is the ability to give the dog up when training is complete.

Gardner with Ranger volunteers and handlers. Its board of directors is responsible for organizational decisions, development, and fundraising.

Right mission, right dog It all begins with responsible breeding for good health; orthopedic certification on hips, elbows, heart, and eyes, as well as genetic testing, are as important as parent temperament when breeding dogs for service. MWD selects many of its puppies from reputable local breeders. For those purchased, the foundation absorbs the cost and the pup remains property of MWD. Financial donors may consider sponsoring the purchase of a puppy, which comes with naming rights. Since high-quality puppies cost between $2,000 and $4,000, Gardner has begun her own breeding program, starting with her first litter of golden retriever pups. Aside from lower cost, the benefit to raising her own dogs is the ability to watch the pups’ 46

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Puppy raiser Amy McLean works on a training exercise with Grace.


By Donna Keene Rousseau | Photography by Brewster Burns | Mission Working Dogs

Claire Parker, Christy Gardner, Kate Spencer, Lauren King, & Thereasa Brillant Amy McLean became a puppy raiser in February 2021 when golden retriever Missions Amazing Grace (referred to as Grace) joined their family. McLean’s personal dog, Bentley, is a therapy dog trained under Gardner in October 2021. McLean goes everywhere with “her girlie,” as she affectionately calls Grace, as a part of her training: to work, shopping, even riding jet skis on Thompson Lake. Grace can retrieve folders and dropped items, carry trash, fetch the paper, and perform “paws up,” a task of transferring a credit card between clerk and owner. McLean says puppy raisers must be “all in;” bonding is key to successful training.

Match-making MWD trains Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and mobility assistance dogs for handlers with a qualifying disability. According to Gardner, making a match involves getting to know a candidate’s lifestyle, dreams, level of activity, work environment, and whether the dog is needed to motivate or wait for direction. She cites an MWD graduate who worked as a mechanic; the puppy being trained for him regularly visited a garage to become familiar with the sounds and smells of the setting.

Although McLean understands letting Grace go will be difficult, she acknowledges that Grace is happiest at work. As a puppy raiser, she takes her reward in watching Grace’s development, knowing someday she will be a lifesaver for someone else.

“Once we have a dog fully trained for an individual,” Gardner explains, “that person stays with us for two weeks of team training, learning how to use and bond with the dog. At the end of the training, the two are tested together on public access skills and their bond in order to graduate.”

Volunteer handlers

Owners-in-training

MWD volunteer handlers receive “on-the-job” training during sessions. Handlers must learn to lead confidently, focusing on the dogs at all times. Outside these sessions, handlers can access continued education through MWD’s “Train the Trainer” video library.

Some dog owners train their own dogs, pre-approved as suitable for service, under MWD’s guidance. In this case, according to Gardner, the dogs train for service; the owners are trained as handlers, educated in the laws and etiquette for service dogs.

Thereasa Brillant, a handler who serves on the board, says she mentally prepares for training days, checking her emotions so she can serve as a positive cheerleader for other handlers. To help Gardner on training days, she watches for handler successes, calling out recognition for well-executed drills and improvements.

Gnig, Micmac for “Patches,” is a King Charles spaniel; he and his owner, Anne Whitten of Kennebunk, are working toward service certification with MWD. Whitten, whose daughter serves as the organization’s veterinary medical advisor, confirms she travels from Kennebunk specifically to train with Gardner.

“It is important to build a handler’s confidence so it translates to the dog,” she says. For example, after riding escalators at the Maine Mall, one handler noticed her dog’s performance seemed off. When she acknowledged her own anxiety about the exercise, she traded her dog with Brillant and the dog’s performance improved by simply changing hands on the lead.

“He’s doing really well with his training,” she says of Gnig. “He trusts me; he can ring a bell to alert my husband in the garage in an emergency and has even learned how to dial 911 on the telephone.” Whitten knows consistency is key and she works with Gnig 24/7, not just on training weekends. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Training ground

Working like a dog

COVID-19 restrictions have impacted where MWD is permitted to train. Current training sites include big box stores and the Auburn Mall. Monthly sessions are held in bigger cities including Portland and Boston, and in airports. Most training takes place indoors, though Gardner says navigating Boston provides increased street stimulation.

At the end of Maine Mall training day, dogs and their handlers gather at the food court. The youngest pups, who trained only the first hour, are fast asleep; older dogs rest under tables while their handlers chat. Yet for these dogs, work is never truly done.

While public access training is important, it is limiting. Gardner confirms, “It’s hard to teach the dogs to fetch medicine or assist with laundry in public.” A first-of-its-kind training center, currently under construction in Oxford, Maine, will provide MWD a permanent home. The $1.1 million, 12-acre training campus will feature indoor/outdoor runs, and cabins where service dog candidates can stay and bond with their dogs. “A candidate with a disability can stay on campus for two weeks to be matched and train with their dog before they are certified as a team,” says Gardner.

Some of these dogs will go on to aid veterans or others with disabilities or life-altering challenges, providing them the opportunity to live life more fully and independently and, in keeping with the spirit of an old Beatles song, they’ll get by with a little help from their friends. Mission Working Dogs www.missionworkingdogs.org

Read more about Christy Gardner in our Summer 2019 issue at

www.LAMetroMagazine.com

“The goal for the new campus is to become Assistance Dogs International (ADI) accredited,” explains Gardner. Accreditation criteria is stringent and thorough, requiring the graduation of at least ten services dogs under the MWD label. According to Gardner, ADI accreditation is valuable as it helps MWD qualify for grants, as well as veterinary care for service dogs assigned to veterans. While fundraising is ongoing, MWD has established sponsorship packages from $500 to $50,000 to aid in the completion of the training center. Their first Date Night Gala on April 30th, featuring dinner, dancing, and a silent auction at Granite Estates in Norway, Maine, will also support the project.

Defying Limits Christy Gardner’s new way to represent her country

Written by David Muise Photography by Brewster Burns

C

hristy Gardner is most assuredly a tough Maine woman- tough enough to serve as a sergeant in the U.S. Army. And now she is co-captain of the U.S. National Women’s Sled Hockey Team. This rugged league allows full checking on the ice, and its tough players thrive on it.

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Overlapping Circles

Written by Michael Krapovicky | Photography by Brewster Burns

T

he Smith Collaboration showcases their talent in venues around Central Maine with rock, blues, and soul selections tailor-made for LA’s discerning audiences.

The sultry, compelling vocals of Larissa Smith, and the clear, wailing guitar of her husband, Chuck Smith, engage and captivate their growing fan base. The Smiths apply their distinct voices to many genres of music from several decades, complemented by the dynamic rhythm section of Chris Currie and Troy House.


The Smith Collaboration performs at Side by Each Brewing Co.

Early years Chuck Smith and Larissa Chipman (now Smith) were born into musical families who spurred their passion for music from their earliest memories. Larissa was always involved with musical pursuits at school and at home, singing with her mother and father, both multi-instrumentalists. Gifted a 12-string guitar by his brother, Jason, Chuck began a life-long dedication to that instrument.

The two were acquainted most of their lives; they met in grade school chorus in the Lisbon public school system, and eventually married. Yet as professional musicians, they were members of different groups: Larissa with several bands as singer, and Chuck guitar-slinging in bands like Zealous Bellus and Downeast Soul Coalition.

Core complements Troy House, originally from Gardiner, Maine, played drums in high school, influenced by The Who, Iron Maiden, and Megadeth. The Smiths became aware of House through his performances with local funk band Dr. Fatfinger. “I always admired his solid, precise playing,” avouches Chuck. Chris Currie began, as many bassists do, as a guitarist. Finding an overabundance of guitar players, Currie switched to bass, and found heroes among the bassists from diverse acts such as Primus, Black Flag, Jane’s Addiction, and Phish. “I met Chuck via a Craigslist ad. We played a few times informally, but he joined Zealous Bellus about the same time and got pretty busy,” Currie recounts. “I was always looking to reconnect.” Currie later joined Shady Lady, a pop rock band featuring vocals by Larissa Smith and co-lead singer Julie Ouellette.

First collaboration Drummer Troy House 52

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SPRING 2022

The genesis of The Smith Collaboration was almost inevitable, as Larissa and Chuck would often play together informally at home.


By Michael Krapovicky | Photography by Brewster Burns | The Smith Collaboration The Smith Collaboration are adept at creatively reimagining music by artists from Hall & Oates to Etta James, through improvisation. “We do our best to pay homage to the original artists’ music we cover,” affirms Larissa. “We want to impress our audience – and each other – with the execution of those songs, while being fun and entertaining.”

Virtual reality When COVID-19 shut down live venues, The Smith Collaboration didn’t skip a beat. “Once everything closed down and all our gigs were canceled, we committed to getting together once or twice a week,” Chuck recalls. “We did Zoom meetings when we couldn’t meet in person, discussing new music, and rehearsing as best we could.” Beginning with a simple ad hoc setup, The Smith Collaboration livestreamed from their rehearsal space in Currie’s basement. The band then retained Justin Dube of Dube Media, who employed a multi-angle camera setup with professional quality sound, for a subsequent virtual performance. Bassist Chris Currie The two played a set at a friend’s blues jam in a local tavern in 2018. After their performance, they were approached by the owner to play a weekend-long all-blues show. Placed on the spot, they quickly came up with a name, and scrambled to procure a full band. Reaching out to Currie and a drummer, they successfully played their first official engagement two months later.

“Dube was able to capture how we really sounded, and we could show people out there what we had been up to,” says Chuck. “Dube Media also mixed several audio tracks for us, which we used as a digital press kit.” In May of last year, The Smith Collaboration participated in a livestream at the Agora Grand Event Center in Lewiston with fellow bands The Goods, Black Cat Road, and Emily and the Zealous.

Many of LA’s musical cognoscenti knew of the Smiths’ individual talents, and were eager to hear the sound of their new association. This interest led to numerous bookings, prior to the COVID-19 shutdown. The band pursued a more eclectic set list, enlisting House as full-time drummer, with Larissa filling out the sound as the keyboardist.

Common ground The Smith Collaboration maintains a sound that audiences find identifiable, with Chuck’s style firmly entrenched in the electric blues of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Larissa’s pop and soul-derived vocal stylings. Since all members are avid Beatles fans, the band throws a couple of numbers by the Fab Four into their performances, in addition to other pop, rock, and soul favorites. “If you have four circles, they will overlap,” House philosophizes, referring to each band members’ sphere of influences. “That’s where we find common ground.” Their various backgrounds and experiences in music leads to a mature, concordant interpretation of a cover song, and the band draws inspiration from many decades of popular music. “We all have love for how each of us performs a song,” explains Chuck Smith. “We make sure we retain recognizable melodies and song structure, but we always fill the space inside that structure differently.”

Larissa Smith sings lead vocals along with playing the keyboard LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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“Dube was able to organize everything, and have it all balanced,” affirms Larissa. “He made it sound great on every platform, including cell phones.” As restrictions lifted, The Smith Collaboration found themselves as much in demand as ever. “Like hitting a reset switch, now the scene is ramping up again,” says House. “Very excited to get back to playing for live crowds.”

New horizons The band continues to strive for excellence as new performance opportunities arise. Although their momentum didn’t cease throughout the pandemic, the band still seeks to maintain and grow their audience. “We still consider ourselves fairly new even though we’ve been together since late 2018,” Chuck demurs. “It’s kind of like starting over again. As far as this group playing in front of people, we’re at the beginning of the road.” The band’s reputation is preceding them, as evident by interest from venues such as Side By Each Brewing Co. in Auburn, as well as the 8th Annual Summer Block Party benefiting Make-A-Wish Maine. “Getting calls – rather than having to make them – is a great feeling,” agrees Chuck. “And more folks have heard of us when we do call them for gigs.” The band also plans to release original music as they progress. “Eventually, we will be writing our own music, somewhere down the road,” says Larissa. “We are looking to broaden our horizons, making new friends along the way.” The Smith Collaboration thesmithcollaboration.com

Chuck Smith

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Blending Art and

Practicality

Written by Peggy L. DeBlois | Photography by Nicole Rand

N

eokraft Signs, one of Maine’s premier sign manufacturers, has been located right here in Lewiston for all of its 75 years. The company makes every type of sign imaginable, from ADA-compliant signage to the iconic display on the Time and Temperature building in Portland. Neokraft Signs is a place with a unique blend of art and practicality.


that Hewitt came to them with an idea for the sign and wondered what capabilities Neokraft had for manufacturing his vision. “Charlie (Hewitt) was blown away when he visited our shop,” laughs Bolduc. “He didn’t realize what could be done with new technologies to produce the old-style marquis look, which is right in our wheelhouse. We are his go-to production facility now and we have a great collaborative relationship.” According to Mike Mathieu, vice president of sales & marketing, that relationship means that art pieces designed by Hewitt are produced here in Lewiston, including dozens of the five-foot “personal” sized Hopeful signs that are delivered around the world. “Neokraft Signs has also produced Hewitt’s 14-foot cowboy boot, and has manufactured another five new pieces that will be revealed in Hewitt’s next art show in New York City,” says Mathieu.

Practical matters Bolduc remembers when Neokraft Signs transitioned from mostly wooden signs to aluminum, a material which became more readily available in the 1980s. Aluminum, vinyl, and new equipment have all allowed the company to fine-tune its abilities in sign manufacturing. President and Owner Phil Bolduc

Art and creativity The Neo-Kraft Company was founded in 1947 by Alexander Lobozzo, who established a reputation in the use of neon lighting and sign manufacturing. His son, Vince Lobozzo, had a passion for design, attending the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. His experience and collaboration with project design teams established the company as a specialist in architectural signage. Today, President and Owner Phil Bolduc carries on that relationship with architects, designers, and project managers through his active membership in the Society of Environmental Graphic Designers. Bolduc started at Neokraft Signs in 1989 as a service technician/ installer, and Lobozzo recognized his creativity and problemsolving ability. When it was time to get a new crane truck, Bolduc helped design it.

Bruce Kimball, who has been at Neokraft Signs since 1982, is schooled in all the techniques that bring the art to reality. “Our whole team has always been cautious about the sign size and placing it in the right spot,” explains Kimball. “We pay attention to the mounting, the electrical – whatever it takes to get the best finished product.”

Case Study: Chestnut Street Arch In 2018, Neokraft Signs was involved in a landmark project in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, called the Chestnut Street Arch. The Music Hall of Portsmouth wanted to develop and donate an arch for the arts district, as Portsmouth historically had used arches to denote neighborhoods. The project team was struggling with the logistics of constructing the arch like a bridge. That’s when the team at Neokraft Signs helped to solve the manufacture and budget obstacles by suggesting they treat it as a sign and use modular construction.

“I combined my previous experience as a machinist and mechanic with my current experience as a sign installer, and designed a truck that wouldn’t require me to climb up and onto the bed of the crane,” says Bolduc. Neokraft Signs also has longevity in its art department, led by Design Manager David Sysko, who has been with the company for 33 years. “The nature of this work suits my particular interest in art,” says Sysko. “When we design the sign, it involves typography, color, 3-D design, engineering, technical drawing, math – it’s a widely varied discipline in bite-sized pieces every day, and it is very satisfying to work with all those elements.”

Hopeful relationship Lewiston’s “Hopeful” sign was the beginning of a close working relationship between Neokraft Signs and nationally-renowned artist Charlie Hewitt. Hewitt is a Maine artist with works in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum, and the Library of Congress. Bolduc explains 58

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SPRING 2022

Charlie Hewitt next to his 14-foot cowboy boot design. (Photo courtesy of Neokraft Signs)


By Peggy L. DeBlois | Photography by Nicole Rand | Neokraft Signs “When I first came to Maine, I had to change a lightbulb in that sign,” recalls Bolduc. “I had to use a bosun’s chair to drop down the face of the sign to replace some bulbs, so I knew the new design needed to have maintenance easements from the interior.” Neokraft Signs created the prototype and collaborated with a team of different trades in Portland. From a staging area on Marginal Way in Portland, they made 22 helicopter flights to disassemble the old sign and install the new one – all in one day. The quick turnaround on installation day was key to the Maine Department of Transportation’s requirement that the display look exactly like the original, for the continuity of safety for the Casco Bay islands and ferries, who have relied on that signage since 1965.

Neokraft family Bolduc believes his greatest accomplishment is creating a Neokraft family.

The Chestnut Street Arch, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire Sysko explains that a lot of a project’s success hinges on moving from design to installation. “We always want an installation to be professional,” he says, “so that dictates the modular nature of any sign as well as the fabrication techniques we can use. We have to take into consideration the rigging and hauling to get it to its final location.”

“I love my employees,” says Bolduc. “God and my wife, Pat, drive me to make this place the best.” The “big shop with a small group of people” has regular social activities, including barbecues and breakfasts. The office is designed to encourage collaboration with open workspaces, and the break room is furnished with quality comfortable pieces. Sysko agrees that the pride the team takes in its products leads to employee length of service.

Ultimately the Chestnut Street Arch was crafted in steel and aluminum, then coated with a bronze-metal finish that has a greenish blue patina.

“We all have the experience of driving around with our families and pointing out every sign we’ve made,” laughs Sysko. “When you see it in the field and it just works, that’s extremely gratifying.”

Case Study: Time and Temperature Building

Neokraft Signs 647 Pleasant Street, Lewiston • www.neokraft.com

Neokraft Signs worked on the renovation of the iconic signage on the Time and Temperature Building in downtown Portland from 1995-1999.

Aaron Barnett & Mike Mathieu work on the Lost Valley sign. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Iconic Neokraft Signs

The old Reliable Oil building on Lisbon Street, Lewiston

Oxford Casino sign in Oxford

Maine Family Federal Credit Union in Lewiston

Time and Temperature building in Portland

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Side by Each Brewing Co. sign in Auburn

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Where everybody knows your

name

Local grocers provide freshness & family Written by Jillian Netherland Photography by Jose Leiva

I

ncreasing issues in health and food safety, supply chain concerns, and community values have all led to a growing interest in supporting local businesses. For LA area residents, an appreciation for shopping at local grocers is part of a much bigger picture – it’s about family. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Mike Roy, owner of Roy’s Foodland

Steve Berry, owner of Future Foods

Small scale allows personal service Mike Roy, owner of Roy’s Foodland, got his start in the grocery business by helping his dad manage their family owned and operated store more than 45 years ago, a legacy built upon quality and personal touch. “We tend to carry things that the big box stores don’t, like our daily homemade salads and sandwiches,” says Roy, “but it’s more than that. Our employees provide a personal service with kind, friendly faces. They’re willing to talk and probably know who you are already. That really resonates with customers.”

This familiarity between customers and employees is felt between the local stores’ staff members, too. “We don’t have hundreds of employees who only see each other every few weeks; we have a core group of employees,” explains Patricia Ward, owner of Ward’s Neighborhood Market. “They’re like siblings to each other. The fun and camaraderie they share really transfers to the customers. We’re always receiving comments on social media saying coming here feels like being with family.”

What you need when you need it

That extra touch of familiarity in customer service is a key theme among local grocers. Steve Berry, owner of Future Foods, cites the longevity of his team as a big differentiating factor for his store.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many big box stores scrambled to keep staple items on the shelves, while local stores tended to fare much better – a true testament to the saying, “Bigger is not always better.”

“We have an employee who has been with us for 25 years. Customers know her by name and know if they need anything, she’ll understand the situation and help them.”

While a number of stores were left to the mercy of wholesalers and vendor stocking fees, local grocers were able to stock indemand items by working directly with regional co-ops to order

Roy’s Foodland in Auburn 62

Patricia Ward, owner of Ward’s Neighborhood Market

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SPRING 2022

Future Foods in Mechanic Falls

Ward’s Neighborhood Market in Lewiston


By Jillian Netherland | Photography by Jose Leiva | Local grocers provide freshness & family department, offering “pick your own meat” selections, providing customers the option to choose their own cuts and portions of steak, chicken, and other fresh meats available directly from their prominent glass display case. Local restaurant owners also like Ward’s low pricing and the ability to see exactly what they are getting. “With our size, it’s easier to maintain quality and freshness,” says Berry of Future Foods, whose store grinds fresh meat daily, a standing tradition for the last 40 years.

The power of community LA grocers love their communities and their communities love them right back. Future Foods assistant manager, Melany Jacobs, stocks the flowers smaller quantities. This quick reaction time grocers gain by taking matters into their own hands especially rang true for Ward’s Neighborhood Market. “My husband was on the phone with everyone and anyone who may have needed products, resulting in him taking a truck to Bangor to pick up two pallets of individually wrapped toilet paper and hand sanitizer from locals able to manufacture it,” recalls Ward of her husband, Leon Karl Ward, who passed away in 2021. “The store was my husband’s life work, serving this community where many neighborhood residents are without reliable transportation, making what we offer all they can access.”

Standing out in the crowd As with most successful businesses, each local grocer is proud to tout their own niche that keeps customers coming back. While each store is renowned for something different, they all have one thing in common: supreme freshness. At Roy’s Foodland, customers enjoy a freshly made daily special, such as Wednesday’s half-priced sandwiches and hamburgers and beans on Saturdays. Ward’s claim to local fame is its meat

“It’s been a mutual thing for years, with us supporting the areas we serve and the public supporting us,” says Berry. He shares stories of how each time a change has been made to the store, such as a renovation or reopening, members of the community have been there, ready to celebrate. Whether it’s by raising funds or donating food, Future Foods supports many local organizations annually, including the Poland Community Church Food Bank, American Legion Post 150 in Mechanic Falls, and local sports teams. “We’re glad to do it. People know our support is staying local, which provides a different perspective on what independent stores can do.” While Roy’s Foodland supports fundraisers and food drives on a regular basis, it also cares for the community in ways that can only be done by local ownership: donating directly to customers in need of food for their families. “I have more than I need in my life,” says Roy. “I try my hardest to help where I can and I’m happy to do it.” For Patricia Ward, commitment to community is a part of her husband’s legacy. “His lifelong philosophy was ‘Just because you live in a smaller area does not mean you should lack access to high quality food,’” recalls Ward. “This commitment continues today, in his absence, through our employees. He started a tradition of giving each employee a gift card to give to a customer who needs it.”

Labor of love The popularity and persistence of local grocery stores boils down to one key component: the people. For many local grocers, their stores began several generations back. Roy’s Foodland butcher and meat department manager, Roger Violette, refreshes the inventory.

“We’re here, we’ve been here a long

Ward’s Market store manager Josh Goulet

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Crystal Fugere inspects the produce at Ward’s Neighborhood Market.

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time, and I still enjoy coming to work every day,” says Roy, a third-generation owner. “If there’s something I can do to help someone else, that’s my mission.”

Berry, of Future Foods, summed it up best: “It’s an ongoing relationship when the communities we serve know they have a local store that truly cares.”

These values can also be seen at Ward’s Neighborhood Market, a mainstay in the community for more than 100 years.

Future Foods 21 Depot Square, Mechanic Falls • www.myfuturefoods.com

“My husband was always trying to find ways to make sure customers knew we cared about them and our community,” shares Ward, who continues to work her full-time job elsewhere while managing the store from afar. “Our employees keep the store running through their commitment to him – the model he put together makes it easy because it’s a model that works.”

Roy’s Foodland 70 Broad Street, Auburn • www.shopatroysfoodland.com

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SPRING 2022

Ward’s Neighborhood Market 208 Pine Street, Lewiston • www.wardsmarket.com


Join us at the Chapman House for a new beginning!

Welcome, Spring! The Chapman House has private rooms available for residents, aged 65 and older, that need assistance with bathing, medications, and meals.

We provide a warm and comfortable home for our residents 41 Pleasant Street, Auburn • 207-783-0961 Bonnie Iwans



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