LA Metro Magazine - Summer 2022

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LA

METRO MAGAZINE SUMMER 2022

POWER OF THE SUN An alternative energy source Page 33

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HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

Maine Source Homes & Realty celebrating 50 years

STRONGER TOGETHER

Local Rotary clubs build better communities


You got this! Because you have us

Paul Colasante

Art Chamberlain

B. 207-782-8823 C. 207-754-2096 paul.colasante@ mwarep.org

B. 207-514-7003 C. 207-754-6259 arthur.r.chamberlain@ mwarep.org

Mike Courtemanche

Paul Gagne

B. 207-783-8921 C. 207-240-5820 michael.courtemanche@ mwarep.org

B. 207-333-6050 C. 207-576-3426 paul.p.gagne@ mwarep.org

Brad Mates

Kim Pelkey

B. 207-333-6051 C. 615-594-5927 bradley.l.mates@ mwarep.org

B. 207-782-6884 C. 207-754-2069 kim.pelkey@ mwarep.org

Plan now for a great retirement. Annuities can be a way to ensure you have enough money for retirement, and there are several kinds to choose from. Discover the peace of mind that comes from retirement planning with a truly local financial representative. And enjoy the sense of purpose that comes from giving back to the community. District Office 184 Webster St., Suite 102 | Lewiston, ME 04240 207-782-8823

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

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2022



editor’s note

As most of you know, on June 14th we lost our beloved CEO/ Publisher, Jim (Jimbo) Marston. My heart was shattered with this loss. Jimbo was my mentor, my dear friend, and the best boss I’ve ever had. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank every person and business that has reached out with words of kindness and tributes. The outpouring of love made this sadness a bit easier to experience. As I’m listening to many of these words of support, I am overwhelmed by how many people Jimbo touched. There have been so many “Jimbo Stories” and I have loved them all. I invite you to reach out or meet up with me at one of our many local watering holes to continue sharing Jimbo Stories - I will never tire of them. Jimbo was one of the most driven people I have ever met – and his drive was never for his own success – it was for the betterment of this community and its people and businesses. LA Metro Magazine was developed because he saw the need for it, and then made it happen. This publication continues to be the go-to resource for all things LA and beyond. Within its pages, you will always be able to read about all the amazing people, businesses, places, and activities happening right in our own backyard. You will never see any negativity printed in LA Metro Magazine. There is enough negativity in the world around us that it’s just refreshing to be a part of something positive. Our mission to entertain, inform, and inspire is very apparent in each story.

Our cover story, Power of the Sun, gives insight into the growing popularity of solar energy and the benefits for both your wallet as well as our planet. And though not everyone can afford to solar power their homes, there are still ways for you to participate in using solar energy for your home, regardless of your income. We also feature Maine Source Homes & Realty celebrating 50 years in business – and the nonprofits they are supporting to celebrate their own anniversary. Our last feature highlights our two local Rotary club chapters and how their motto of “Service Above Self” benefits this community. There is no shortage of amazing subjects to highlight in LA Metro Magazine. Can we just talk about how we have a fire spinner right here in Auburn (read about him on page 44), and that 84 Court Pizza and Restaurante sells martini flights? There is so much to learn within the pages of our summer issue. I look forward to hearing the feedback on this issue, and I am always excited to hear what type of story ideas you have for future editions! My promise to the readers of LA Metro Magazine is to always do my part to continue making this publication as entertaining, informative, and inspiring as possible – just like Jimbo created it to be. We all owe it to the cities we love to be more like Jimbo – let’s work together and continue his mission! Be kind and well, everyone.

Please join me in welcoming back

PAM ASHBY to her new position as

TYLA DAVIS Editor-in-Chief

Editorial Director

LA Metro Magazine is proudly printed in Lewiston, Maine at

8 Lexington Street, Lewiston 4

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2022

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CONTRIBUTORS PAM ASHBY

BREWSTER BURNS

DAVID FULLER

Pam joins us as an editorial director while working remotely for her full-time position at D Magazine Partners in Dallas, Texas. As the previous editorin-chief of LA Metro Magazine, she is thrilled to have a hand back in the local magazine. She comes back to her roots temporarily after a medical emergency her 24-year-old son experienced back in March. While being back she has enjoyed catching up with friends, hiking, and spending time with her family.

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.

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.

editorial director

MICHAEL KRAPOVICKY 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.

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LA METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2022

photographer

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.

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.

JOSE LEIVA

LINDA LEIVA

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.

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.

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.

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.”

photographer

writer


CONTRIBUTORS LISA MAYER writer

Lisa is a Clio-Award winning advertising writer from New York City who moved to LA five years ago. Her work has been published in national magazines, and she is currently writing two novels set in Maine. Lisa is the wife of Rabbi Sruli Dresdner of Temple Shalom in Auburn, and their twins are in the fifth grade at the fabulous Park Avenue School.

SARA POULIN writer

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.

NICOLE RAND photographer

Writers & Photographers Wanted 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 L A Metro Magazine team! Learn more about us at www.LAMetroMagazine.com and then email us at:

editor@LAMetroMagazine.com

LA METRO AUTUMN 2020

MAGAZINE

JIMBO MARSTON & UNCLE ANDY’S DIGEST A legacy of laughter

Page 25

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 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.

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LIVING LEGACIES

LA’s oldest churches celebrate tradition

YMCA OF AUBURN-LEWISTON Celebrating its past, eyeing its future

CRAFTSMEN IN TRAINING New England School of Metalwork

SOCIAL H UR

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.

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

HOME ON THE

RANGE Written by Sara Poulin | Photography by Nicole Rand

T

op Gun of Maine appears as a fortress, looming over Maine Street in Poland. At 85 feet, it is the longest public indoor shooting range in Maine. With every safety feature imaginable, from steel and concrete walls and a sloped floor, to an anti-ricochet mat at the end of the lanes, it’s hard to imagine a more safety-conscious building.

Dave Dutil fires at a target at Top Gun of Maine 10

LAMM spends some time at Top Gun of Maine and R.D. Tactical Handgun Instruction, to learn how they take firearm safety very seriously.

LA METRO MAGAZINE | AUTUMN 2020

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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CORE

Our

Crew

PUBLISHER & CEO Jim Marston Sue Marston

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Tyla Davis editor@LAMetroMagazine.com

Jim Marston Publisher & CEO

ADVERTISING SALES Steve Simard

PRODUCTION MANAGER Tyla Davis

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Pam Ashby

Tyla Davis

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

WRITERS

Michael Krapovicky Linda Leiva Lisa Mayer Jillian Netherland Sara Poulin

PROOFREADERS

Steve Simard Sales

Steve@LAMetroMagazine.com

Keith Davis Kayla Marston

PHOTOGRAPHY Brewster Burns David Fuller Jose Leiva Nicole Rand

COVER

Stephanie Arsenault Bookkeeper

billing@LAMetroMagazine.com

A solar panel from the NexAmp solar farm near River Road in Auburn. Photographer: David Fuller 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

Thomas Hill Social Media

thomas@uncleandys.com

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LA METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 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 three | summer 2022

cover story

quick reads

10 16

33

Power of the Sun

features

22

Maine Source Homes & Realty celebrating 50 years

59

Buddy Ball

29

Social Hour: Moon Stone Pottery & Elementals

39

Eats: 84 Court Pizza and Restaurante

44 Local Rotary clubs build better communities

Health & Wellness: Optimal Wellness

49 54

The art of spinning fire

The Vault

Sound Check: Camp of Rock

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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optimal wellness

Following her heart to keep yours healthy Written by Jillian Netherland | Photography by David Fuller

A

bout 18 years ago, Auburn resident Merry Matukonis followed her heart and took a leap of faith, leaving a decades-long career to pursue her passion: creating happier and healthier lives. “Ultimately, I knew I wanted to leave the hospital setting of illness care and transition to focus on true wellness,” says Matukonis, whose chiropractor encouraged her to become a nutritionist as a path into the holistic side of healthcare. Her deep understanding of the pivotal role nutrition plays in a body’s ability to function, coupled with a 40-year nursing background, built the foundation

upon which Optimal Wellness was born. Matukonis, who touts four National Wellness certifications, is currently completing her fifth certification in a Clinical Mastery Program in Natural Functional Medicine. The thirst for expanding her knowledge with continual learning comes from her in-tune ability to help patients heal. “Having an advanced understanding of how nutrients, and sometimes herbal formulas, can support the function of our cells, glands, organs, and systems has provided the basis for determining a proactive versus reactive approach to treating ailments,” she explains.


Merry Matukonis performs testing on Michael Matukonis.


Eating to live vs. living to eat Although eating for sustenance is as vital to human life as breathing, consuming the right foods for optimal body function is not always intuitive. By 2022, generations of people have heavily relied upon “non-foods” – processed foods devoid of essential nutrients – comprising nearly 80% of a young adult’s or adolescent’s diet, according to a 2020 cross-sectional analysis conducted by the National Institutes of Health. Matukonis sees this daily, especially among young adults needing digestive support due to these poor dietary habits. “Most patients experience deficiencies leading to leg cramps, poor digestion, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, and depression,” Matukonis states, adding, “people view food as something to taste good instead of asking what it will do for their bodies – my job is to help them make better choices in food.”

Listen to your heart The impact nutrition has on the human body expands beyond digestive issues; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States, directly correlating nutrition and cardiac function. Proper nutrition provides vital nutrients to the heart, which are necessary for it to beat normally, without irritability or interruptions. In fact, the heart can provide invaluable insight into a patient’s nutritional deficiencies with the help of a heart sound recorder – and Optimal Wellness is the only practice in the state of Maine that has one.

The heart sound recorder is a low-risk, general wellness device that assesses the heart’s nutritional status by generating graphs of the heart’s sounds. Matukonis generally incorporates the 15-minute heart sound recording into a patient’s third or fourth visit; however, the service is offered to anyone. During this process, the heart sound monitor collects signals through heart sound sensors, which are then transmitted to a computer serving as a display device and analyzed by Matukonis. “The heart beats 100,000 times per day, but it eats first,” Matukonis explains. “What we eat daily either nourishes the heart or weakens the heart.”

Down to your toes Optimal Wellness only offers services and supplements that Matukonis has witnessed the benefits of herself. Perhaps one of the most unique of these is the IonCleanse® Foot Bath. Matukonis became acquainted with the foot bath following a car accident 19 years ago, resulting in four surgeries on her right lower leg due to injuries she sustained. “I felt an immediate, profound response in my right foot and ankle,” Matukonis recalls. “I recognized that all the swelling and pressure I was feeling was gone after a 30-minute foot bath – so I bought one!” While the relief results from the foot bath speak for themselves for the patients who have experienced one, the results are also backed up by science. The manufacturer of the IonCleanse®

Through the use of testing vials, Matukonis can test which foods or additives a person has an adverse reaction to.


By Jillian Netherland | Photography by David Fuller | Optimal Wellness

The heart sound recorder and the demonstration of how to use it. Foot Bath has outsourced studies to test the water following a patient’s foot bath. What was found in the water was a reduction in aluminum, glyphosate, cadmium, and mercury – all pulled from patients’ feet, simply from being exposed to various elements as a part of everyday life. In addition to physical relief, studies were also conducted to measure the success of the IonCleanse® Foot Bath for children on the Autism spectrum. In one study, 60 children on the spectrum,

aged 2-19, were given a foot bath three times per week for a three-month duration. Families committed to completing a daily questionnaire tracking appetite, behavior, speech, cognition, etc. Upon the study’s culmination, it was found that all children had shown improvement between 47% and 87% in every category. However, the most noticeable positive improvement was that two of the nonverbal children in the study were speaking by its completion.

The IonCleanse® Foot Bath

Before

After LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Maintaining a well-oiled machine With proper nutrition being the key to wellness, consuming all the right nutrients can be challenging to commit to. Food availability and busy schedules are obstacles for most of us. This is where organic whole food supplements come into play. “I use kinesiology through Nutrition Response Testing (to find a neurological lock in the patient’s shoulder) to assess what the patient’s body needs,” explains Matukonis, detailing how being both a registered nurse and a nutritionist helps her recognize these needs. “Non-invasive evaluation techniques, such as the calcium cuff test, Ragland’s test, zinc taste test, and the Iodine patch test to show me what the body is lacking nutritionally.” Through kinesiology and nutrition, the heart and soul of Optimal Wellness, Matukonis applies her knowledge in recommending whole food supplements that have been available in the United States and utilized by practitioners for nearly a century.

Knowledge is power It is no secret that Matukonis’ lifelong commitment to learning, in addition to her extensive experience in the realms of traditional and holistic medicine, makes Optimal Wellness a one-stop shop for holistic diagnosis and treatment. However, Matukonis attributes patient success to her ability to listen and hear what the body is trying to communicate. “The body tells me what it needs,” she explains. “Listening to it now prevents the breakdown later, versus trying to reverse damage, and in turn, resulting in much less pain physically, emotionally, and financially.” Optimal Wellness 168 West Auburn Road, Auburn • optwell.biz

Matukonis in front of the supplements she offers.

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

Ready to get started? Call us at 207.777.8899 StMarysMaine.com/PrimaryCare

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LA METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2022


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e m o h A

Bisbee aims his bat at where he intends to hit the ball. LA METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2022 16 Johnny


run to

t the h e a r Written by Linda Leiva | Photography by Jose Leiva

O

n Sunday mornings at the Sweetser Field at the Auburn Suburban Little League (ASLL) complex, there is a buzz of activity. Coaches, parents, relatives, friends, athletes, and buddies congregate, check in, and warm up. Players gather in the dugout as rosters are being checked. Pre-game excitement is in the air, as with any Little League or Tee Ball game. Lots of high fives and “happy-to-see-yous!” Yet, this Sunday morning group gathers with an exciting difference. All LA METRO MAGAZINE digitalneeds. edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com the athletes are children with special

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Morin and Stevens worked together and that year Buddy Ball was born in Auburn. In one year, they have more than doubled in size with 40 kids, creating four teams and a waiting list. “I dreamed about what life would be like if my kids could be included, but they could not play traditional Tee Ball,” recalls Stevens. “I have never wanted my kids’ disabilities to hinder them; I want them to have every opportunity that all other kids have. Sports is a big part of childhood.”

How does It work? Buddy Ball is based on the premise that children of all abilities should enjoy the chance to play ball, feel the thrill of the game, and experience a measure of success. Loved ones gather to cheer on these remarkable athletes as they hit balls, run bases, throw returns, all assisted by their buddies, in any manner they may need. Buddies are drawn from siblings of the players, and from ASLL athletes themselves. Buddies mostly find out about the opportunity by word of mouth. Stevens will also advertise on her Extra Needs Fun L/A Facebook page.

Ashley Stevens hugs her son Sawyer.

Seek and ye shall build “If you build it, they will come,” said Jess Morin, Director of Auburn Suburban Little League, who has played softball all her life. “This is by far the best program ASLL has.” She spoke of Buddy Ball, a national effort to include special needs children in the Little League Tee Ball community of players. Ashley Stevens, a mom with two children on the autism spectrum, approached Morin in 2021, hoping that something could be done for children with special needs to include them in America’s pastime.

“The ASLL has a Facebook page and players can register on this site, just the same as the rest of the league. ASLL also puts out flyers to local schools,” says Stevens. Registration occurs online, based on the division any player is interested in. When it’s game time, athletes go up to bat with their buddy and try hitting the ball in a hand-over-hand model, or in some cases buddies will surround the athletes arms and encourage a correct stance. Once the ball is hit, the run and the fun begin. The race to first base is often accomplished with hand holding, pushing a wheelchair, or encouragement to run the distance, depending on the needs of the hitter. All is made complete with cheering from spectators and announcer, Steve Wallace, CEO of the YMCA in Auburn-Lewiston. He gives his announcing the professional air, “Heeere’s Carrrrter!!!! Stepping up to bat.” “I want to make each player feel like they have clinched the World Series,” Wallace says. “Sometimes we may have two first

Kyleigh-Ann Bardier, Abrielle Bardier, Natalia Travaglini, & Matteo Travaglini


A Buddy Ball game in progress base players. It doesn’t matter, extra needs kids aren’t going away, we need this. No one leaves without feeling successful.” The official rules of a typical Little League game are modified in Buddy Ball to ensure success of each player. For instance, there are usually only two or three innings. An inning consists of the entire team’s roster going up to bat as the opposing team plays the outfield. There are no outs. Each athlete will go to bat and run the bases with assistance of his/her buddy in each inning. Once the team has accomplished this, they take the field and let the opposing team have their chance at bat.

A win-win for parents and players alike Parents have been an enormous support of this effort. The byword seems to be “inclusion,” as they have long sought to have their special needs children included in typical activities that their peers enjoy. “It’s all about inclusion,” said Nick Koch, father of John Koch, age three, who plays for Dairy Queen. Mom, Erica, agrees, “There was nothing for us, nothing for my child. Now we have something my child can participate in and feel success.” John is assisted by his buddy Lorenza Piper or one of his teachers. Anthony Seddon, age 18, who plays for the Norway Savings Bank team clearly has a great time. He’s a great hitter and plays the crowd as he shows off his social side, waving at the onlookers, stomping on the base in a dance-like rhythm as he hits a grand slam. Announcer Wallace winds the crowd up with his appreciation of the hit. “It’s about inclusion and acceptance. Ant lives for this; his world is being social!” says Anthony’s mom, April. His dad Chris, and his buddy that day, Sarah Michaud, agree. Buddies can be a buddy for more than one player in a day. Michaud is also a buddy for Anthony Burgos, age 8, playing for Dairy Queen.

Lorenza Piper helps John Koch hit the ball from a tee. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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“It’s something we can do together,” says Anthony Burgos’ mother, Jessica McNally, as she watches intensely. It is a family affair for six-year-old twins Emmy and Lainey who play for DNA Photography. Their sister Makena, age nine, is a buddy for Emmy. Dad, David Smirles, coaches and mom, Kendra Levasseur, helps in the dug-out. “It’s one of the only things we can do as a family, without leaving someone out,” says Kendra. “You find little windows, because it is a hard life.” “It’s fun to see kids have opportunities to play,” enthuses buddy, Owen Bushway. “Johnny is one of the biggest hitters!” His athlete, Johnny Bisbee, 14, wears jersey #8 on Patient Advocates team. Owen is 12 years old and a student in 6th grade at Acadia Academy. His teachers often tell his parents how good he is with his classmates with disabilities. His parents are longtime friends with Jess Morin and when they told Owen about Buddy Ball, he immediately said ‘yes’!

Sponsors are key “We are definitely grateful for all the community support!” notes Stevens. The teams and games are made possible by many local businesses and families who donate generously. With their help, Buddy Ball is provided with uniforms, helmets, bats, and gloves. The sponsors this year include Norway Savings Bank, Patient Advocates, Dairy Queen, and DNA Photography. The enthusiasm and support for these athletes is immense, where everyone cheerfully yells, “Play ball!” Auburn Suburban Baseball & Softball www.auburnsuburban.com/DivisionInfo/Buddy-Ball Ethan Small leads Devontae Gosselin to the next base.

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LA METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2022


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celebratin

Written by Linda Leiva | Ph


g 50 years

hotography by Nicole Rand

D

orothy’s infamous quote when landing back in the field after her adventure in Oz rings true for Maine Source Homes & Realty. In 1972, founder Bill Turner purchased a farmhouse on 100 acres of field. Turner might have thought there was no place like home as he began to build a business creating homes and communities.


parcels of land. In addition, they’ve built twenty subdivisions over their 50 year span.

A unique approach As the name Maine Source Homes & Realty reflects, the company is both a source for manufactured, modular, and custom-built homes and is a full-service realty company. The philosophy involves wrap-around care for the client who desires a home. “We are unique because we don’t build and then sell homes,” says Turner. Instead, for the past 50 years, Maine Source has been securing land, working with folks who want a home to be able to see (or customize) the design process, and helping families when transitioning from one home to another. Often, they work with clients only to find the right financing, so that home ownership becomes a reality. “The home you want can go on your land or ours. We provide our customers with turn-key service. From septic systems to well drilling – anything you need to start your home, we can provide, and it can all be done with any type of loan. We don’t limit you, and that’s what makes us different,” states a quote from Bill on the Maine Source website. Maine Source is the general contractor for all the needs in the process. Bill Turner

Big business Bill Turner turned those 100 acres into a mobile home park, and that was just the beginning. He used his expertise in land development to create a company that serves people every step of the way of owning a home. “I came on in 2003 or 2004,” recalls Bill’s son, Mark Turner, Owner/Project Manager. He had earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in business. Mark adds, “Dad’s partner was getting done, so it seemed like a good time to join the business.” It is estimated that Maine Source Homes & Realty has provided over 700 homes, including 170 in Brookdale Village (a mobile home community in Poland) and another 430 on independent

METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2022process. 24 ALA new modular home in the construction

“We are two companies in one,” explains Owner/Managing Broker, Jon Mercier, who joined the company in 2007. “Mark runs the homes side, design, and project management. We have shared administrative assistants, home design, and contracting, as well as a full realty service with nine other licensed brokers,” explains Mercier. “We are a small team, but do a lot of volume because we are 100% committed in this industry.” The home styles range from manufactured homes to modular and custom built. Currently, approximately 75% of the homes are modular and 25% are manufactured. “I am the people person,” adds Mercier. Meeting with clients, looking at floor plans, speaking about individual needs, and sales for existing homes is where Mercier’s expertise lie. With his background in the hospitality business, Mercier is well-suited to engage with clients and network with folks in the community who can assist his clients. He brings people together to achieve the goal of home ownership.


Maine Source Homes & Realty help make the home ownership dream a reality. “(Clients) are involved in the design and work with our in-house drafting department,” assures Mercier. People who seek the perfect home can work with Maine Source from start to finish. When needed, clients can choose their lot or have Maine Source find a location that suits them. Homeownership can become a reality for even those who thought it was well beyond their dreams.

“I have even mowed the lawn of a home a couple of days before closing so that all would be welcoming to the new homeowners,” reflects Mercier. According to him, selling an existing home, choosing, buying, and moving to a new home can be one of the most stress-inducing things that people go through. “We have such committed agents who live and breathe it.”

“(We are) more of a custom builder, rather than a volume dealer,” Mercier continues. This means that homes are built to order, rather than houses sitting in a development waiting for a buyer. “We want the transition for a client to be seamless. From the sale of the existing home to the designing, preparation of the building site, general contracting, and construction of the home itself.”

Maine Source also offers free staging as clients get ready to sell their existing homes. They work with other brokers, folks who want to “flip” houses, and people who are just beginning to wonder if homeownership is a possibility. Commitment to the clients who come to Maine Source is reflected in the entire process, from the initial dream to the doorknob on moving day.

Commitment yields success

Staying current and relevant

Homes have been built beyond the local area in many parts of Maine and across the New Hampshire border. The range of homes vary in income levels and needs.

Currently, the most popular homes are one-level executive ranches. According to Mercier, no carpet, white shaker-style cabinets, clean looks, farmer sinks, and oil-rubbed fixtures are in high demand.

“We care about the future our clients may have and our foundation designs reflect that,” says Mercier. “For instance, they may be interested in a future egress that is not in the immediate plan for the home, and we make it possible.” Forward thinking, according to Mercier, is just one of the commitments Maine Source offers its clients.

Maine Source Homes & Realty

NOTABLE PROJECTS

• Brookdale Village in Poland

• The Martindale condo project in 2005 • An eight-unit modular apartment building in Brunswick • Numerous subdivisions from Auburn to Buckfield and all surrounding areas

“We work with all ages. Baby-Boomers are the biggest demographic. They are sizing down, cashing out of a home, and transitioning to Maine,” says Mercier. Maine Source offers home packages that include energy-efficient features with geothermal heating and cooling, as well as insulated concrete forms and on demand heating and hot water.

Celebrate and rejoice Plans for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Maine Source Homes & Realty include a partnership with Side by Each Brewing Co., a local brewery in Auburn. Side By Each is creating a special brew called “Maine Source Ale.” All the ingredients are locally sourced and a portion of the profits generated from this custom brew will be donated to someone who supports local farming. This is Maine Source’s first initiative, and their goal is $15,000 a year in donations. Linked with this effort is a blood drive on August 27, sponsored by both Maine Source and Side by Each. Accurately named A LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Pint for a Pint, everyone who donates a pint will receive a pint of “Maine Source Ale,” Mercier assures. There will also be an open house party at the business location, 368 Minot Avenue in Auburn this summer to celebrate with the community on August 17th. The plan is to have a food truck, giveaways, picnic tables, a “meet and greet” of the team, and a general good time to celebrate with folks who have made the business a success. They encourage anyone who is interested in homeownership, in any capacity, or have already done business with Maine Source, to stop by and chat with the team.

The possible dream “Home ownership for everyone,” is a mantra that motivates those at Maine Source Homes & Realty. They have worked with clients who have struggled, helping them set goals financially and then seeing them open the door to their new home to young couples who are expanding their families and needed the perfect spot to raise their children. A review on the Maine Source website states, “Team members Jon and Mark were dedicated, understanding, and patient. They were genuine and interested in our project.” We’re not in Kansas, but there’s “no place like home” with Maine Source. Home sweet home is indeed a beautiful dream, and one that is made possible with the right mindset and company that has helped families for 50 years. Happy Anniversary Maine Source Homes & Realty! Mark Turner & Jon Mercier inside a model home

Maine Source Homes & Realty 368 Minot Avenue, Auburn • mainesourcehomes.com

Shannon White, Tessa Bunnell, Lindsay Wright, Mason Dupuis, Paige Landry, Brandon Caruso, Karin Turner, Bill Turner, Jon Mercier, Mark Turner, Toni Ferraro, Jason Carrier, Linda Dupuis, Dustin Mallar, Regina Ritchie, Janice Packard, & Deb Morin


By Linda Leiva | Photography by Nicole Rand | Maine Source Homes & Realty celebrating 50 years

Celebrate with giving As part of the celebration of Maine Source Home & Realty’s 50th anniversary, the company has decided to give back in thanks for the success they have achieved. The company executives and brokers have chosen to support six charities and non-profits in the Lewiston Auburn area and a bit beyond. Each time there is a closing, $100 will be donated. Buyers and sellers have an opportunity to match the donation as well.

“Non-profits need us now more than ever. It’s either feast or famine,” says Mercier. Maine Source Homes & Realty recognizes how important it is to support local charities. Mark Turner has designated Acadia Charter School as his charity. He has three children who attend Acadia, and he has seen his children thrive in a setting with smaller class sizes and bigger opportunities. “It has allowed them to thrive, and they have gotten more than would have been possible in a traditional school setting,” says Turner. Jon Mercier selected Androscoggin Land Trust as his charity for donating. He recently served on the Androscoggin Land Trust and is active locally. He values land conservation, the Androscoggin River, and its potential. “If you developed every square inch of land in Maine, Maine would not be Maine. There’s a balance between land development and conservation,” Mercier states. Associate Broker Regina Ritchie (who also wears many other hats within the company), Broker Toni Ferraro, and Sales Agent Shannon White have chosen to support Good Shepard Food Bank because it is local to Lewiston Auburn, helps smaller pantries, and focuses on the homeless. “We realize how tough it is,” Ritchie and Ferraro comment. Linda Dupuis and her son Mason chose the Brunswick Humane Society. They live in Topsham and know that the society is wrapping up a new project, a new facility that will serve midcoast Maine. They are excited that the recent efforts of Brunswick Humane Society will spread all the way to Vassalboro. Brokers Brandon Caruso and Dustin Mallar chose Safe Voices, a center for the support of domestic abuse and sex trafficking victims. They feel it is a beneficial organization helping women out of domestic violence situations. “I felt like giving back to the community that has given me so much,” says Caruso. He continues, “As a property manager, I have dealt with tenants who have needed a safe place to live. And part of giving back to this community, for me, is helping such an excellent service provide safe and secure homes.”

Deb Morin and Lindsay Wright have chosen the Boys & Girls Club as their charity to support. The Boys & Girls Club in Auburn provides a safe place for young boys and girls to engage with mentors who help them with personal goals and relationships. The club’s goal is to develop young people into successful citizens. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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

Making

ARTT and MEMORIES AR

Written by Lisa Mayer | Photography by Jose Leiva

W

hat’s it like to open a business in the middle of a snowstorm?

Just ask Michelle Gibbert. She opened Moon Stone Pottery & Elementals during a blizzard in 2017. “I had no customers opening day – no customers all weekend,” she says. “But the next weekend, I had a full house!” And a full house at her captivating shop on Turner Street in Auburn is typical these days. Moon Stone Pottery specializes in an in-store purchase option known as paint-and-take, where customers choose any of her 1,492 pieces of moon-colored, unpainted ceramics, and paint it to their heart’s content. Gibbert will then fire it, and about a week later, the finished piece can be picked up. People get so excited when they see their masterpieces. “The kiln makes magic,” she laughs. Call it the Great Maine Pottery Throwdown, in reference to “The Great British Pottery Throwdown,” a popular show on BritBox of which Gibbert is a fan.


Once you have all that, it’s time to find your happy place. Moon Stone has paint stations all over the shop, with beautifully painted pieces displayed to inspire creativity. Once you dip your brush into the glaze and start painting, something may just wash over you – perhaps something akin to relaxation. The American Art Therapy Association says making art supports good mental health – especially during times of crisis. And let’s face it, it’s been a very tough couple of years. Gibbert agrees, adding, “Once you start painting, you can feel your stress relieving itself.” While most people come in and paint for about 45 minutes, some let the art take them over. “I’ve had people here for 5 hours, and they still say they’re not finished!” Gibbert chorts. When you have finished, Gibbert will collect your piece for firing in one of her three kilns in the back room. First, she dips the pottery in a clear glaze, then all the painted pieces are stacked in the kiln and the firing process begins. Michelle Gibbert

A feast for the eyes, a balm for the soul When you walk into Moon Stone Pottery you are greeted with floor to ceiling shelves filled with everything from garden gnomes to salt and pepper shakers. You can decorate a whole set of dishes or bongs and pipes. There’s something for everyone. Pick one piece, or a few, and let Gibbert lead you over to a wall full of colored glazes. She’s there to help you decide what might look best on your chosen piece of pottery, as well as the colors you choose, creating your own palette.

“Once I turn on a kiln, it’s on for 24 hours,” Gibbert says. Pottery pieces bake at different temperatures and are measured with pyrometric cones. These cones are devices that gauge the heat-work during a firing process. For example, earthenware is baked at a low-fire – only 1,840 degrees Fahrenheit. Stoneware, on the other hand – which is offered on special nights – is fired with a mid-fire, about 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Say what? Moon Stone Pottery added a monthly event, Potty Mouth Pottery, and it has gained popularity. During Potty Mouth, you silk screen naughty words onto your pottery – anything from “Bi*ches get Sh*t Done” to the tamer, “You had me at Merlot.” Christmas time is the perfect occasion for people to come in to make personalized gifts for their family and friends. Unique gifts include trays for holiday cookies or mugs for hot toddies.

Potty Mouth Pottery sayings for those on your naughty list? “Don’t get your Tinsel in a Tangle” or “Why don’t you Jingle on out of here”

Potty Mouth Pottery sayings for those on your nice list? “Love you to the Moon and Back” Guests may bring their own food and drink to these events. Gibbert adds with a wink, “I don’t check – so I don’t know what’s in your travel cup.”

Steering wheels and pottery wheels Malaki Klein works on painting a gargoyle. 30

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Every morning Gibbert drives a school bus – opening up the shop after she finishes her early route. Her husband, Lee, who


A sampling of some of the 1,492 pottery options at Moon Stone Pottery works in medical cannabis, minds the store during her afternoon run. By 5 p.m., she’s back at the shop, working long after the 8 p.m. closing time – glazing, and making new pieces from an array of molds that line the back-room walls. Having grown up and attended school in Lewiston, Gibbert is a little emotional when she talks about her art teacher at Lewiston High School, Mr. James Garner. “He passed away only three years ago,” she says. “He was the one who taught me how to make pottery. He’s the one who started it all.” In honor of the impact Garner had on her artistic nature, Gibbert also teaches clay throwing on the pottery wheels she has in the back room. After making your piece, Gibbert will fire it in the kiln. And instead of choosing a piece made from a mold, you’ve created a one-of-a-kind ceramic masterpiece.

Starting in June of 2021, Moon Stone began a Facebook live stream where unpainted pieces are shown, and people buy them during the feed. Once a piece is purchased you have the option to have it delivered with glazes or paint right at the Moon Stone studio. Just what would Gibbert say to a newcomer who bemoans having no artistic talent? “Start with something small. Paint it all one color or hold a plate and squeeze a sponge full of orange paint over it – there’s your sunset! You can put anything on pottery. I’m telling you, once you start, most people can’t stop!” Moon Stone Pottery & Elementals 186 Turner Street, Auburn www.facebook.com/moonstonepotteryme

Gibbert is committed to keeping things affordable. Event nights are $10 plus the cost of the actual piece you choose – most pieces range from $20 to $70. May we suggest the very popular garden gnome? And you can always walk in for paint-and-take, with no scheduled event necessary. For the amount of relaxation you get, it’s probably the cheapest vacation around.

Once you start Besides Potty Mouth and Stoneware Nights, there’s also an upcoming watercolor turtle night and a 420-themed night, where everyone paints bongs and pipes. “The first time we did that, it was very successful,” says Gibbert. So, along with the ubiquitous birthday parties, Moon Stone Pottery has events that intrigue any creative mind.

Some tools of the trade LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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P

WER of the

SUN

An alternative energy source Written by Michael Krapovicky | Photography by David Fuller

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ociety can benefit greatly from the ways solar energy can be co-opted and implemented. Growing concerns over expenses and environmental detriments of our current energy systems are prompting further discussions into the power of the sun. Electricity prices are rising, and the community is looking for ways to cut costs without negatively affecting the environment. Utilizing solar power in effective ways is increasingly becoming an attractive proposition for homes and businesses.


Home of Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque powered primarily with solar energy

Benefits of solar Over time, the myriad positive aspects of converting to solar power outweigh the disadvantages. Technology for solar systems are improving, with more efficiency at a smaller size, and it is advantageous for consumers to explore options for their energy consumption. For example, Jason Levesque, elected mayor of Auburn in 2017, runs his home primarily on solar energy. “My main motivator in setting up a whole-house, grid-tied solar system was the desire to have an alternative/diverse utility supply, with the ability to fix my rates for the next 25 years,” says Levesque. “Removing thousands of tons of carbon from the air also factored into my decision-making process.”

“The biggest benefit with solar power is the opportunity to reduce the peak demand charges for businesses,” maintains Blais. “Solar power use flattens out the variable usage cost – yielding a more predictable electric bill.” The Public Utilities Commission negotiates a standard supply price for a grid-tied solar system. Using solar power in conjunction with a local supplier allows the customer to lock in a rate, making their electric costs less nebulous. According to Blais and Levesque, the present method of solar energy supplementing a grid-tied system is like an insurance policy against rate increases.

Solar energy is partially subsidized with credits from the government, and the extra energy absorbed at peak sunlight times can be sold back to the grid provider. Also, no greenhouse gases are emitted during solar production.

Locked in John Blais is the Deputy Director of Planning and Permitting for the city of Auburn and an ardent advocate of solar energy. Blais points out that on the city grid, there are variable charges when energy is at higher usage times.

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LA METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2022

The Levesque’s home solar panel array power switch.


By Michael Krapovicky | Photography by David Fuller | Power of the Sun Having electricity provided using solar cells can be as simple as powering a few appliances or be more all-inclusive; the energy use will be the primary cost determinant. “Photovoltaic (PV) costs range all over the board, and cost varies on the power requirements you have in your home,” Blais agrees. “Heat pumps, dryers, dishwashers, electric pumps for wells all require a great deal of electricity.” “The prices vary based on whether it’s a roof-mounted or preferably a ground-mounted system, how much generation you’re looking for, and whether you want batteries,” adds Levesque. For costs, Blais suggests shopping around the various companies that sell photovoltaic cells as well as asking Efficiency Maine what credits might be available.

Solar business Businesses can also be augmented positively by solar energy, and the city of Auburn has the infrastructure to support vast new fields for solar collection. “There is 19,000 acres of agriculturally-zoned land in Auburn that could possibly be partially used to host photovoltaic cells,” says Blais. Farmland can be leased – and the brunt of development expenditures can be shouldered – by the solar companies. John Blais

(Photo courtesy of John Blais via LinkedIn)

“It’s satisfying to know that our family finances are protected from utility price increases,” affirms Levesque. “My electric bill right now is around $10 to $15 per month.”

“Solar power is an income opportunity for landowners, particularly in the agricultural field,” reports Blais. “Clearing the land may be out of the range of a farmer’s finances, but a solar company can bear the expense of preparing the land for solar cells.” Although a huge windfall for the landowner, there can be problems from neighbors.

Mitigating energy usage on the grid at peak times with a solar-powered supplement is a boon for the individual and the community.

“Farm fields being converted to solar fields can seem like a loss to the environment,” notes Blais. “Angle of solar panels, creating glare, is another potential complaint.”

“I will say that as more folks add grid-tied solar to their personal properties, our regions’ ability to handle peak demand times becomes significantly better which will help lower our reliance on large gas or oil standby power plants,” affirms Levesque. “That’s a huge win for everyone’s budget – even if you don’t have solar – and the environment.”

Blais would argue the detriments of solar development are overshadowed by the preservation of critical land.

Systems There are many ways to have solar systems incorporated into homes and businesses. Photovoltaic and thermal double-evacuated tube systems are two of the most common, according to Blais. In a thermal system, water is pre-heated by the sun through pressurized, condensed lines and stored in a collector. The process heats the water from 50 to 90 degrees, thereby reducing the British Thermal Units (BTU) required to raise the temperature to 120 degrees for home or business use. EfficiencyMaine.com lists the advantages of heating hot water with solar systems: lower cost, reduced environmental impact, and no combustion required. “A great example of how a solar thermal system is beneficial is when used by dairy farms,” Blais illustrates. “These farms are constantly cleaning their milking lines, using lots of hot water, and the efficiency of solar power really comes into play.”

“There is a symbiotic relationship between farmland and solar power,” Blais asserts. “As land is allotted for solar cells, and the technology improves, the footprint of the cells becomes smaller and the area can be repurposed as farmland.”

Initial cost Many consumers are concerned with the seemingly prohibitive expense of solar systems. Blais and Levesque both agree the startup costs are high, but the yields are worth the investment. “Our provider gave us two options, a fixed low interest loan or cash up front,” says Levesque. “It wasn’t cheap, but after doing a simple return-on-investment calculation, my system – with a minimum projected 25-year lifespan – would pay for itself within 9.5 years.” With the increased cost of the fossil fuel-based energy supply, a solar-powered system is an even more propitious prospect. “Now, since rates have increased substantially, my return on investment is about six years,” confirms Levesque. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Aerial view of a section of the NexAmp solar farm off of River Road in Auburn. There is also minimal upkeep required with a solar-powered system. “As far as maintenance goes, there are no moving parts so nothing to break or lubricate... they are just there doing work,” says Levesque. “Rain cleans them off nicely!”

No sun? Folks often wonder how a system reliant on sunshine is feasible during nighttime and when direct sunlight is obscured. However, when using solar power on the Central Maine Power (CMP) lines, their excess energy production created on sunny days reverts back to the customer as credits. “With a grid-tied system, I’m always pulling from CMP on cloudy days, and at night time,” Levesque admits. “So when it’s cloudy, I pay for my power, but when it’s sunny, I get paid for the power that goes back into the grid.” Levesque is aware of the limitations of access to the sun and considers this. 36

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2022

“We are thoughtful on what we use – no washer and dryer, etc. – and when the sun comes back out, my system recharges quickly,” says Levesque. “My backup battery bank will keep the house going for 18 hours at full load and consumption.” Levesque’s system benefits not only his family, but the other customers to which he is connected. “I am a mini power plant for CMP, and that’s important in peak summer demand,” Levesque states.

City projects The permitting process for commercial and residential solar energy conversions involves a site plan review for commercial development, where a customer must comply with a series of ordinances. Residential conversion requires an electrical permit with a net metering agreement with CMP. The city addresses glare and potential issues with neighbors, yet the city planning board feels optimistic about expanding solar-powered systems within Auburn.


By Michael Krapovicky | Photography by David Fuller | Power of the Sun

The largest solar project the board has approved since Blais’ tenure is at 1115 Riverside Drive for Auburn Renewables/NexAmp, amounting to 35 acres. Auburn Solar, LLC/Hexagon Solar at 1054 North River Road purchased 18 acres for solar energy fields. Penley Corner Solar and Novel Energy Solutions also had significant amounts of land earmarked for solar development. In total, 91.76 acres have been rubber-stamped for solar use. The City Planning Board can add up to 200 acres without the council’s approval. “The current national average in the United States was estimated to be 164 homes that could be powered by one megawatt of solar energy,” Blais instructs. “Auburn has approved 17 megawatts of commercial solar projects so far, which equates to enough electricity to power 2,788 homes – 27% of the homes in the city.”

Solar community farms Maine residents can choose to have electricity supplied through a community solar farm and either buy or lease a portion of the solar panels in the solar farm’s array, and receive an electric bill credit for electricity generated by their share. Community solar is an option for people who don’t own their own homes, have insufficient solar resources or roof conditions to support a photovoltaic system, or are unable to make it work financially. “The biggest benefit is zero investment from the individual homeowner,” says Blais, who subscribes to a community solar farm. “Plus, knowing where your energy is coming from makes people feel good – that’s why I do it.”

The future will hold more and more solar projects being green-lit by the board. Hydroelectric power and other alternative energy sources are also being explored.

Solar power is less expensive than electricity generated via fossil fuels, so consumers save on their monthly bills.

“We are very interested in renewable energy, locally-sourced hydropower, and utilizing electric vehicles,” Blais expounds.

“In today’s inflationary environment, it’s important for people to research all potential cost saving measures,” Levesque argues. “Lowering utility costs helps make housing more affordable, and when those community solar projects are located within Auburn, LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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they pay taxes, which helps lower property tax bills for everyone.”

Makes sense Through community solar farms and harnessing the power of the sun directly, more and more of the citizenry of LA can limit their dependence on oil and gas and make a positive contribution to the environment and community. Levesque, with the foresight and financial resources, has reaped the rewards of a solar energy system. “I have been watching the technology advance while the price decreased; in 2019, the financial model really started to make sense for residents and businesses alike,” says Levesque. “Electricity rates fixed at current prices, and the ability to generate and store back up power, create a solid business model – more resilient to outside variables.” As prices for energy rise, the mayor entreats the community of LA to check out options for renewable power sources. “I would encourage every home, apartment building, and business to explore the idea of adding some, even a small amount, of solar generation and storage infrastructure,” suggests Levesque. “It could be a couple of roof-mounted panels and small battery backup that will allow you to keep the food in your freezer frozen and the furnace on – pretty good insurance on your major investments.” The positive aspects, such as safety, job creation, low maintenance, limiting dependence on foreign oil, no pollution or greenhouse gas creation, and lower cost over time, are all reasons to discover what solar energy can mean for one’s home or business.

The Levesque family in front of their solar panel setup.

City of Auburn 60 Court Street, Auburn • www.auburnmaine.gov

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Written by Michael Krapovicky | Photography by Brewster Burns

A

service-friendly counter in front of the kitchen, a cozy indoor atmosphere upstairs, and patio seating – a rarity in the Twin Cities – are all features of 84 Court Pizza and Restaurante. The amalgamation of Greek, Italian, and American cuisine is even more rare, satisfying those seeking conventional, yet flavorfully exotic dishes. 84 Court caters equally to on-the-go customers, or ready-torelax and enjoy their surroundings customers. Their website promises a “memorable and delectable dining experience,” and positive feedback about 84 Court shows the fulfillment of that promise to the citizenry of LA.


offerings at 84 Court. “The food we serve has to be something I’d want to eat,” claims Enka. “If I wouldn’t eat it, I wouldn’t serve it.”

Fresh take Previous businesses at the 84 Court Street location had centered around establishing fine-dining environs. However, the Suli’s business model focused on quicker turnover of meals while still providing highend victuals. “Other businesses here focused more on the dine-in experience,” says Enka. “Our success has been catering to everyone’s needs.”

Enka Suli

Beginnings Genti and Enka Suli opened 84 Court Pizza and Restaurante in 2012. The Sulis are native Albanian – Genti immigrating to the U.S. in 1994, followed in 2000 by his wife, Enka.

With Americanized Mediterranean dishes as their milieu, the Sulis attracted new devotees, with neighboring business folk such as police and city officials discovering a new and exciting option for food right in their back yard. In addition, Enka’s convivial nature imparts a familial relationship with their clientele. “Sometimes, customers will say, ‘let’s go to Enka’s,’ not 84 Court,” Enka recounts, the restaurant becoming characterized by her friendliness and charisma. “We really make them feel like part of the family here.”

Inspired dishes

Prior to opening 84 Court, Enka was a supervisor at HMS Host, managing their rest areas. Genti was the facility maintenance manager for Shipyard Brewing Company. He also was a chef at a family-owned Freeport eatery, always dreaming of owning his own restaurant. The couple lived in Lewiston and looked for the optimal location for their new enterprise.

From its inception, 84 Court has provided signature dishes for their eager consumers. The Specialty 84 Salad – made with grilled chicken, sautéed onion, green pepper, and broccoli, over salad with fresh vegetables – is a staple menu item. The hamburgers at 84 Court are also a popular favorite.

“We looked around, wanting a place close to home,” recalls Enka. “The rent was affordable at 84 Court.”

“We add special seasoning to the meat, and we toast the bun to make it more tasty,” says Enka, describing the unique touches the cooking staff applies to their burgers.

The Sulis spent two months renovating the space to their specifications. Their Mediterranean heritage lent itself to their choice of

There are several different sources of inspiration for new taste treats at 84 Court Pizza and Restaurante.

84 Court regulars Will Escobar, Michelle Escobar, Victoria Escobar, Monique Rouillard, & Kevin Rouillard enjoy a night out. 40

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2022


By Michael Krapovicky | Photography by Brewster Burns | 84 Court Pizza and Restaurante

“There is so much variety in Mediterranean cultures when it comes to food,” asserts Enka. “Sometimes, when you travel, you talk to people and get ideas for new dishes.” Family recipes occasionally come into play. A game meat casserole is next to be added for customers to try.

84 Court has a very popular Mediterranean cuisine.

“My grandmother used to do a rabbit stew, cooked at a low temperature in the oven,” Enka relates. “It adds a different, special taste.”

“We never had to petition the city for outside seating like other businesses,” affirms Enka. “In the summer, it really bumps up our sales.”

Ultimately, 84 Court offers what satisfies the demand.

The couple added an awning to the upper level of their patio in 2019. Plans to add another were waylaid by material costs and availability, but are in the works for 2023.

“We serve a new item for three or four months,” Enka confirms. “If the regulars like it, we keep it on the menu – if not, it doesn’t stay.”

Mediterranean flavor The rich culture of the Mediterranean seasons the dishes of 84 Court. They serve Greek delicacies such as falafel, spinach balls, and make hummus in-house from a family recipe. Souvlaki is meat and vegetables served on a skewer and is a favorite of 84 Court regulars. 84 Court also provides classic Italian fare – lasagna, spaghetti, and of course, pizza. In the Mediterranean, Italian and Greek food is viewed differently; the region has much cross-pollination of culture, and dishes carry over from nation to nation.

Entertainment 84 Court has featured live entertainment on the patio throughout its tenure. As pandemic restrictions lift, the Sulis plan to reinstate regular performances on Saturday evenings. “We canceled our license during COVID, but we are starting to have entertainers back,” maintains Enka. “Next year, we will begin booking the engagements earlier, with more variety.” Ernie Gagne is a frequent performer at 84 Court. Gagne is a local songwriter and educator, playing a mix of cover material, and original music with a clever, comedic edge. His son, Scott, a talented guitarist and singer, frequently guests with him.

“The tastes of Mediterranean people are very similar,” explains Enka. “They like gyros and souvlaki, Italian grinders, and pizza.”

Fun refreshments Since its opening, 84 Court has served beer, wine, and its signature drink, sangria – flavored with various fruit. “Folks would come in just for the Blood Orange sangria,” says Enka. In April of 2022, 84 Court was awarded their liquor license, affording them the ability to creatively craft new, elaborate cocktails. The Light On the Ice, made with Blood Orange Gin, orange and lime juice, and ginger beer, is one of the numerous choices for refreshment. The Knee High Habanero Martini was a featured drink in May of 2022, as was the Dragonfruit Margarita.

Outside seating Outside seating is a coveted commodity in LA, and 84 Court’s expansive patio can accommodate an additional 54 people in the warmer seasons.

Bartender Isabella Webster makes a Dragonfruit Margarita. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Will Escobar samples a martini flight. “84 Court is where I had my first gig,” avows Gagne. “Enka and her staff are always accommodating, and whether we are inside or on the deck, it’s always a great place to play music.”

Future Moving forward, 84 Court plans to continue renovations, and retain their focus on patron satisfaction.

“Our goal for this summer is to add a new dish every month,” says Enka. “We really want to keep our customers happy.” LA restaurant enthusiasts, try something different and unique that you’ve never had before – you may just find your new favorite dish at 84 Court. 84 Court Pizza & Restaurante 84 Court Street, Auburn • 84court.com

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LA METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2022



The art of spinning fire Written by Sara Poulin | Photography by Brewster Burns

F

low Arts is a term used to describe any activity that allows for a “flow state,” a mental state in which the performer is completely immersed and focused on the activity they are performing. Also referred to as being “in the zone.” Fire spinning and breathing are considered a flow art. It is believed that the art of fire dancing began hundreds of years ago with the people of Polynesia. The Maori people of New Zealand are presumed to be the first people to spin poi. Poi, a Maori word, meaning ball on a string. Originally, poi was used as a training tool for battle and hunting. Later, it would be used for the purpose of storytelling and entertainment.


Jude Leaver


until he had been practicing for quite some time. It’s a skill to be developed slowly and with care for obvious safety precautions. To learn safely, he began by spinning with practice poi, which is essentially two socks filled with rice and tied together. This makes the beginning work a little less dangerous because it’s not lit on fire yet; however, Leaver points out with a laugh, “it still hurts if you hit yourself.” Leaver used YouTube videos to learn how to make his own poi for practice spinning and admits he “spun for hundreds of hours” before he was ready to perform with fire and in front of an audience.

Fire safety Well-rounded as any individual can be, Leaver is an Eagle Scout, the highest rank of Scout in Boy Scouts of America. He wittily says, “I’m a scout; I’m pretty good with fire.” Unfortunately, not all performers have the experience he does, and as a result, specific training needs to be taken. In addition to learning how to spin safely, there are several precautions and protocols that fire performers are expected to know before any performance. First, each performer has to evaluate the space for safety. They are also asked to find a designated fire safety person whose job is to watch the performers, and monitor the flame, to ensure that nothing has gotten out of control. In the event of an emergency, that designee will be in charge of a fire-resistant blanket that would smother the flames and douse any items that might catch on fire accidentally. Leaver states that there is also a special kind of clean-burning fuel, and a special container it’s kept in, during performances that is easy to extinguish. As far as attire for fire spinning, no synthetic fabrics are permitted, only natural fiber clothing.

Into the flames Leaver spins fire on a hoop while Emily Capaldi performs in the background.

After learning all of the ins and outs of safety, and the rhythms of the flow art, Leaver’s first performance was with the Maine

Jude Leaver, a local elementary school teacher, is a hidden gem. In addition to being a teacher, Leaver is a singer, dancer, actor, and gifted guitar player. He also spins and breathes fire! Leaver’s powerhouse combination of finesse and charisma exudes energy and enthusiasm for his craft. Leaver sat down with LA Metro Magazine to explain Flow Arts, expand on his many talents, and share his interest in the local entertainment community.

Catching fire Leaver has been performing almost his whole life. He has been musically involved in his church for many years, playing guitar and singing almost every Sunday. He also enjoys the local theater scene, having taken roles in multiple productions at Community Little Theater (CLT) in Auburn. He is also directing and producing for the Summer Musical Theater Programs at CLT. While Leaver is no newcomer to performing, he never considered the art of fire spinning until 2010 when he met Alisha Makepeace. She knew of his experience in the theater and had seen him dance. She suggested to him that he would make a great fire performer. The two hit it off, and Alisha would quickly become his friend and fire arts mentor. With Alisha as his teacher, Leaver began practicing the flow art of fire spinning right away, but didn’t start spinning with actual fire 46

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2022

Maine Fire Dancing Collective performer Emily Capaldi


Maine Fire Dancing Collective performers Front: Meghan Lefav and Jude Leaver. Back: Brigid Sinclair and Emily Capaldi Fire Dancing Collective at a First Friday Art Walk in downtown Portland. After his first performance, he was hooked! He started attending festivals with a group called The Fire Spinners, most notably at Harry Brown’s Farm in Starks, Maine. In 2010 he joined other performers as a volunteer and began spinning fire with different props. While there, he picked up a hula hoop for the first time in his life. It was like “discovering a missing limb,” describes Leaver. He fell in love with hula hooping, and adding fire to it felt like a natural progression. It’s “a natural rush or high; you’re on cloud nine!” Leaver boasts. While Leaver uses several different props for fire spinning – poi, fans, and palm torches – the hula hoops are his passion. Leaver and his fellow performers use a local establishment in Turner, Flow on Fire, for props, prop repairs, and workshops. Another talent he possesses is “eating fire,” he says. “It’s not as scary as you’d think,” describing the process as “creating a vacuum by tilting your head, as you put the fire into your mouth, the vacuum starves the fire of oxygen, extinguishing the flame. My mom hates it.”

One of Leaver’s most popular events that he has participated in was the Fire and Ice Festival in Lewiston, Maine, in February of 2013. Along with four other flow artists, Leaver entertained guests in downtown Lewiston. While guests enjoyed beautiful ice sculptures and elaborate cocktails, the fire spinners danced and spun in the cold February air for nearly three hours. Leaver loved every moment of it. This summer, he’s looking forward to performing in warmer weather with The Way We Move and Social Circles, two flow art groups that do private shows, festivals, and parties. They even have a wedding booked this coming August. Fire performing is not for the faint of heart. It’s truly an impressive mix of coordination and flare. It’s a little-known source of entertainment, but it is gradually growing in popularity, and it’s catching on. Maine Fire Dancing Collective www.facebook.com/MaineFDC

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Unlock Your Tastes

VAULT THE

Written by Jillian Netherland | Photography by Nicole Rand

T

ucked along the businesses of Lisbon Street resides The Vault, Lewiston’s own specialty wine and craft beer shop – with so much more under one roof.


Hall about taking a part-time position at The Vault, initially to assist with beer selections and some added scheduling flexibility for the owner. “After a few months, I was asked if I would be interested in purchasing the store – it wasn’t something I had ever considered, but it turned out to be a good opportunity and has been a great experience.”

Special occasions to bargain hunting Since its inception, The Vault has predominantly been known for its higher-end selections; however, the majority of the store is considered to be a part of the affordable, value bottle variety. “We have hundreds of bottles in the $15-$20 range and numerous high-quality selections that aren’t as expensive as many would expect,” shares Tannenbaum. A unique example of The Vault’s affordability is its mystery wine cases. The price point for each mystery case is $100 for 12 bottles of wine, totaling just over $8 per bottle. “The mystery cases are based on a customer’s preference of red or white wines, or a mix of the two, as well as anything to avoid,” Tannenbaum explains. “These have helped customers discover new favorites, often by trying wines they didn’t know or believe that they liked.”

Tailored to you Similar offerings based on a customer’s taste are The Vault’s monthly wine and beer clubs. Customers can choose between two bottles of wine for $30 each month or four bottles of wine for $80, with a discount after six months and again at 12 months. The Vault’s monthly beer club is $40 each month, with the number of bottles varying but always amounting to at least $40 worth of beer. Owner Keith Tannenbaum

Meant to be Initially opened in 2011 by Susan Hall, The Vault was purchased in 2016 by Keith Tannenbaum, almost by kismet. “I developed an interest in craft beer about a decade ago and became a regular customer here,” reflects Tannenbaum, who had previously worked in higher education. In 2015, Tannenbaum decided to leave his current job and was soon approached by

A sampling of some of the many wines offered

“Customers seem to enjoy this because it introduces them to new options they either wouldn’t have chosen or known about,” states Tannenbaum. “I always choose a few selections I know most people will enjoy, in addition to those tailored to their taste preferences, and one that I know will be a wild card.” Tannenbaum’s passion for helping customers expand their palates and the genuine joy he gains from connecting with people have led to new avenues of growth for The Vault. In March of 2022, The Vault began hosting free wine tastings every Friday from 5-7 p.m., focused on a theme or region. Tastings are hosted by one distributor most weeks, and two distributors on Art Walk


WINE 101 Wine tasting Fridays at The Vault

Marianne Cowan and Laurie Tannenbaum with Keith Tannenbaum

Ron and Donna Bissonette listen to Tannenbaum talk about the wine they are sampling.


The Vault has a vast craft beer selection weeks during the summer. With plans to add beer tasting events later in the season, it became apparent that The Vault could benefit from a larger space – and that space will not be far down Lisbon Street, in the former Bear Bones Brewing building.

“I am constantly looking at items that are in line with what we already offer, as well as new options to add to our rotation,” says Tannenbaum, adding, “to continue to grow and attract new business, you have to be creative and willing to try new things.”

Onward and upward

Expanding knowledge, for owner and customers

“The new site has been purchased and is almost double the amount of space as the current location,” says Tannenbaum. Although a move-in date has not been determined, the new space will allow The Vault to add a wine bar, tasting room, mix and match four and six packs of beer, as well as the possibility of offering liquor in the future.

This dedication to trying new things is a key component to The Vault’s – and Tannenbaum’s – success.

Wine, beer, and beyond Wine and beer may be the main features of The Vault, but they are far from the only options the store has to offer. The Vault strives to have something for everyone, from coffees to meats and cheeses, breads, chocolates, the increasingly popular Fiore artisan oils and varieties of balsamic, and the perfect snack to pair with a customer’s beverage of choice. 52

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Flavored olive oils and balsamics are a popular offering


By Jillian Netherland | Photography by Nicole Rand | The Vault “When I first started here, my focus, knowledge, and interest was craft beers. I could help most people with most beers, most of the time. The wine knowledge has come over the years,” Tannenbaum explains, citing tastings, visiting wineries, and connecting with others as the true teachers in his wine education – an education he values being able to share with his customers. “When someone comes in asking for a red or a white for a special occasion, or a specific person, I can help them find what they need. I know the questions to ask to help them choose something I am confident will be the right choice.”

Community first While the niche offerings undoubtedly help The Vault stand out in the crowd, the variety in selections, coupled with the individual assistance from Tannenbaum, really sets the store apart from others. Whether a customer is searching for an every day choice, or higher-end selection for a special occasion, Tannenbaum’s expertise is ready to provide guidance. “The day-to-day, being here, talking with people, helping them pick the right beer or wine – that’s the part I love. We have incredible customers and I feel so lucky to have gotten to know so many people from both cities – and all over – over the years.” The Vault 84 Lisbon Street, Lewiston • www.wineatthevault.com

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Camp of Rock performs at Lost Valley. (Photo courtesy of Shawnee Treadwell)


Rocking the W    rld of Ro p m ck a C Written by Michael Krapovicky | Photography by Brewster Burns

“And we shall teach rock and roll to the world.” — Jack Black, School of Rock

C

amp of Rock, entering its 17th season, has enriched the lives of hundreds of young people, providing an outlet for them to learn and perform. Over the course of two weeks, the attendees of Camp of Rock are educated in all facets of creating rock-and-roll bands, growing their confidence as musicians – and as human beings.


private lessons were available, there were no organizations that assembled groups of neophyte rockers into bands. Gagnon’s unlikely source became the genesis of what would ultimately fill this void in the community.

Spark of rock In the film School Of Rock, protagonist Dewey Finn organizes a children’s music program into a rock band to further his own ends. Finn uses unorthodox teaching methods that allow the kids to overcome personal challenges. “I’ve been teaching music in public schools, trying to do things differently than they are usually done in a typical elementary school,” says Gagnon. “When I watched School of Rock, I thought, ‘these kids are really playing – why am I not doing this kind of thing?’” Gagnon pitched the idea for a rock-based music retreat for kids to Central Maine Community College’s Athletic Director, David Gagne. As a result, the college provided the resources for the inaugural year of “Camp of Rock” in 2007. “Because it was totally unique to the area, we had a lot of interest and support,” says Gagnon. “Camp of Rock went way better in that first year than I ever thought it would and just continued to grow.” Brian Gagnon

Background The founder of Camp of Rock, Brian Gagnon, is a local to Lewiston Auburn from birth, attending private schools St. Peters and Saint Dominic Academy. From an early age, Gagnon had a gift and love for music. He took private lessons with renowned pianist Gerard Jean, and entertained patients at nursing homes - escorted there by his mother. Gagnon attended the University of Southern Maine’s music program, earning a master’s degree in 2002. He taught music education at schools statewide, currently at Fairview Elementary School in Auburn. Gagnon noticed a dearth of programs catering to young people looking to learn traditional rock-and-roll instruments. While

Camp of Rock attendees typically learn anywhere from six to 12 songs of varying difficulty over a two week period, culminating at a showcase at Lost Valley. The participants set up the stage and perform in various permutations. In 2010, Gagnon established Great Falls Academy of Modern Music, LLC, and rented space at Community Little Theater. Camp of Rock is now a private entity, and donations to support this local venture are accepted.

Academy Camp of Rock is comprised of children and young adults of varying skill levels. More advanced students within Camp of Rock share tips with beginners, without prompt by Gagnon.

Brian Gagnon, Steve Grenier, Brooke Lachance, & Bill Skelton listen as Anabeth Treadwell auditions for the Academy of Rock. 56

LA METRO MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2022


By Michael Krapovicky | Photography by Brewster Burns | Camp of Rock “There is nothing I could have said to them to have initiated it, it was totally spontaneous,” says Gagnon of the impromptu lessons the students offered. “Kids learn really well from other kids.” To foster this internal mentoring, Gagnon established The Academy of Rock, the leadership group within Camp of Rock. “Academy members get to play advanced stuff independently, paying it back by helping out with the younger kids,” Gagnon elucidates. “They help set up the stage, but they get to choose what they want to play, and get special acknowledgment at the end of a performance.” An audition process is required to be a member of the Academy, performing before a panel of judges. Being scrutinized by the panel, according to Gagnon, is a significant obstacle to overcome, bolstering the student’s self-esteem. “I remember there was one kid who was really nervous before the audition,” recalls Gagnon. “He told me later that getting through it was a real breakthrough for him, giving him the confidence he needed in everyday life.” Entry into the Academy of Rock is competitive, with limited slots for the various ‘chairs.’ “To be selected, they have to be able to communicate well to the group, and show their potential as a leader,” asserts Gagnon. “If it weren’t for the Academy of Rock, Camp of Rock would not be what it is today - those kids really step up.”

Beck Walker prepares to audition for the Academy of Rock.

Rocking for a cause Camp of Rock performs approximately five shows per season, including the Dempsey Challenge every year since 2011, the Great Falls Balloon Festival, intermissions at sporting events, and live in-studio at the radio stations WBLM and LA’s own WIGY. Gagnon’s early nursing home stints indoctrinated in him the value of donating time and talent to charitable institutions. Most Camp of Rock appearances are chosen to give worthy causes maximum exposure. “It’s bigger than rocking out and having a blast,” acknowledges Gagnon. “Helping others through donating our time is very rewarding.”

Success stories Gaining musical skills and performance experience is not the only benefit of attending Camp of Rock. Participants build friendships, form bands that perform outside of Camp of Rock, and get the chance to interact with local artists, even celebrity musicians like Jon Fishman of the band Phish. The program can help to abate their social reservations, and teach interpersonal skills that can carry them throughout life. “One kid came to me many years after leaving Camp of Rock, and said, ‘I really appreciate you making time for me, no adult has really done that ‘... It’s way beyond the music at that point,” beamed Gagnon. Trevor Laliberte was a Camp of Rock-er in its first year of operation. “My elementary school music teacher told me he was starting a summer camp specifically to teach kids how to play rock music, Kahdiana Knight

(Photo courtesy of Shawnee Treadwell)


Dewey Finn style,” recalls Trevor. “I often reflect back on the lessons Brian taught - the discipline of rehearsing and fine-tuning, the responsibilities of being an active part of the music industry, and especially the patience it takes to pull off a rewarding performance.” Alina Laliberte, Trevor’s sister, has been actively creating music since her days at Camp of Rock. The Lalibertes recently released a single, “Nervous,” under the name Gemini Szn. “I would not be the musician I am today without Brian and everything he does for the community,” Alina affirms. “In my eight years at Camp of Rock, I met lifelong friends, became a stronger musician, and as the vocal section leader, I realized that I want to pursue a career as a vocal coach.”

Into the future Camp of Rock follows a solid model that has been successful throughout the 17 seasons. However, Gagnon has been mulling over possible ideas for augmenting the current curriculum. “I’ve thought of so many ways to expand if I ever find the time,” confirms Gagnon. “There could be theme weeks throughout the year, maybe a Camp of Blues, or Jazz, or Bluegrass.” Gagnon plans to remain as Camp of Rock director for the foreseeable future. “There are probably former Camp of Rock-ers who’d be interested in taking it over, or some other local music teacher,” muses Gagnon. “It’ll be a while before I’m ready for that though – it keeps me young.” Camp of Rock www.facebook.com/CampofRock Elyvia Lachance

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STRONGER TOGETHER Local Rotary clubs build better communities Written by Jillian Netherland | Photography by Jose Leiva

I

“Service Above Self.”

t’s the motto that unifies the 1.4 million members of Rotary International – and for members of the two clubs in Lewiston and Auburn, this pursuit is lived daily.

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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Tim Worden starts a meeting of the Auburn-Lewiston Rotary Breakfast Club

Lewiston, Auburn, and the world at large Rotary International is a non-political, non-religious, humanitarian service organization bringing together businesses and professional leaders throughout each club’s community. Known as Rotarians, Rotary members provide community service, promote integrity, and advance goodwill, peace, and understanding throughout 46,000 chapters worldwide. In LA, Rotary has been a presence for more than 100 years; however, due to scheduling differences, the local chapter decided to break off into two clubs in 1991: the original Lewiston-Auburn Rotary Club, which meets at noon on Thursdays at DaVinci’s Italian Eatery, and the Auburn-Lewiston Rotary Breakfast Club, which meets at 7 a.m. at the United Methodist Church of Auburn on Wednesdays. “When I first became interested in getting involved, I had the opportunity to join either club,” said Terri Kelsea, the Auburn-

Lewiston Rotary Breakfast Club Secretary since 2010. “Ultimately, my decision came down to which option worked better with my schedule. Regardless of town, state, or somewhere else globally, our motto is our mission and can be found everywhere.”

Service above self – in action The mission of Rotarians can best be described as two-fold: volunteerism and raising money throughout the year to donate to the community. Locally, these funds have supported scholarships for graduating seniors, private movie showings for children with autism, and a variety of local nonprofit organizations voted on at the end of each year. “We all have our passions and speak with many nonprofit leaders who provide information on the needs of the local community,” explains Giselle Bagushinski, current president of the LewistonAuburn Rotary Club. “We ask ourselves, ‘who resonated and hit home for us throughout the course of the year?’ That’s ultimately how we choose where to donate.”

Help where it’s needed most Historically, Rotary International has been dedicated to eradicating polio, launching the PolioPlus program in 1985 to help Rotary fund operational costs, such as transportation, vaccine delivery, social mobilization, training of health workers, and support surveillance activities. “Each year, we team up with the Lewiston-Auburn (Rotary Club) chapter to host Pints for Polio, a fundraiser for PolioPlus,” explains William Hunter, current president of the Auburn-Lewiston Rotary Breakfast Club. While the overarching focus of Rotary International is to serve the disadvantaged, each region has its focus based on community needs. “Locally, we always emphasize helping children and the elderly, as well as needs expressed by members or brought to our attention by community members.”

Auburn-Lewiston Rotary Breakfast Club secretary Terri Kelsea 60

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These community needs span a variety of service projects ranging from caring for the gardens at Lewiston’s Veterans Memorial Park, packing and delivering meals through the SeniorsPlus Meals on Wheels program, hosting a free annual paper shred-


By Jillian Netherland | Photography by Jose Leiva | Local rotary clubs build better communities

Lewiston-Auburn Rotary president Giselle Bagushinski ding event, conducting trail clean-up at Mount Apatite, singing Christmas carols to residents of Schooner Estates, sponsoring the United Way backpack program and after-school snack program through the Boys & Girls Club, and volunteering with the High Street Food Pantry and Trinity Jubilee Center. While the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily prevented volunteering in person, it did not dissuade local Rotarians from their dedication to bettering their communities. “When we found ourselves unable to gather to volunteer, we were still able to donate funds where they were needed,” explains Kelsea. “We were also able to move certain projects to video, such as reading to elementary school children through the Rhoda Reads Program.” Rhoda Reads, a nationally recognized early literacy program focused on children up through age five, was explicitly designed for Rotarian support.

Lewiston-Auburn Rotary treasurer Thomas MacDonald

Auburn-Lewiston Rotary Breakfast Club president William Hunter While the primary focus of Rotarians in both LA clubs is to contribute to conditions that improve the communities in which they live and work, the impact transcends the local boundaries of Maine and the United States. “One of our current financial activities is helping organize grants for young women in Zambia to go to nursing school,” shares Thomas MacDonald, treasurer of the Lewiston-Auburn Rotary Club. “We’ve helped communities throughout the world, which is an exciting aspect to Rotary many people may not realize: you have the ability to be involved locally, nationally, and internationally.”

All-inclusive The diversification of local Rotarian support may be due partly to its well-rounded membership. Both clubs enjoy a roster of mem-

Lewiston-Auburn Rotary incoming president Todd Goodwin LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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President Giselle Bagushinski leads members of the Lewiston-Auburn Rotary in the singing of “God Bless America.” bers who have been involved for decades, and enthusiastic new members with hometowns spanning from Maine to the Congo and Nigeria – and the addition of women Rotarians, following a change to the Rotary International bylaws in January 1989.

The connection with members has provided a strong foundation for members of both clubs – especially for Kelsea, who remains an active member, despite relocating to Rhode Island two years ago.

“Without women members, only half of our communities would be represented,” says Todd Goodwin, incoming president for the Lewiston-Auburn Rotary Club. “The perspective, connections, relationships – all of it would be lacking without full representation in the club.”

“I wanted to be closer to my daughter and her young family,” says Kelsea, who still attends weekly meetings via Zoom and returns in person regularly. “I explored the guidelines and discovered that I could remain a member from any location. My roots are with this club – I joined in 2005, and worked up the ranks fairly quickly, always with a goal of getting new individuals involved.”

“Women get things done!” Kelsea chimes in. “We are all involved in the community together. The diverse and talented mix of members has only strengthened who our club is and what it can do.”

Credibility through doing the right thing One common misconception of Rotary is that it’s solely a club for businessmen – and at one point, this was accurate. Run similarly to business networking clubs, Rotary once kept membership exclusive to one person per industry per club, with a desire to host and conduct community service projects within their communities. However, since its inception, Rotary has moved from emphasizing business representation to seeking membership from those interested in the mission above all else: Service Above Self. “On the business side, being a part of Rotary does build credibility through doing the right thing,” explains David Foster, past president of the Auburn-Lewiston Rotary Breakfast Club. He became a member in 2016 as a conduit to become networked in the community. “It’s a service organization, not a business networking club – you end up meeting good business people that are great people to know, professionally and personally, but it absolutely begins with service.” 62

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Auburn-Lewiston Rotary Breakfast Club past president David Foster


By Jillian Netherland | Photography by Jose Leiva | Local rotary clubs build better communities

Bart Kelsea buys 50/50 raffle tickets from Holly Zielinski and Terri Kelsea at a golf event organized by the Auburn-Lewiston Rotary Breakfast Club

Fresh eyes and seasoned perspectives

Camaraderie for the greater good

The combination of seasoned Rotarians and new members has been the key to both clubs’ ability to make the most significant impact throughout their respective communities.

One expectation of Rotarians is to have a regular presence at meetings, conducted by a hybrid approach of both in-person and virtually, via Zoom, either weekly or biweekly, depending on the club. Both LA clubs follow a similar format consisting of a meal.

“It’s a new Maine community with new members coming on board, creating a great variety and mix,” says Hunter, who has been a Rotarian for more than 22 years. “These new members tend to know of needs among different organizations that were not previously on our radar – they are often the ones taking our story to those folks who need us most yet didn’t know about us any more than we knew about them.” “We’re looking for people interested in the work of the club and willing to be a regular participant,” states Goodwin, adding, “we are particularly interested in making sure that our club reflects the richness and diversity of our community.” The path to becoming a Rotarian begins with a prospective member reaching out to one (or both) of the local clubs through the website or social media, then attending a meeting as a guest. “We’re a group of passionate people – that can’t be experienced by viewing a website,” says Bagushinski. “It’s hearing our members speak and speaking with them – learning why these people joined and what they have gained through their membership.” Following the introductory meeting, if an individual decides to pursue becoming a Rotarian, they will begin a brief sponsorship process, where a veteran Rotarian will present the prospective member with the official application, clearly set expectations of membership, and answer any questions. Lastly, the application is presented to the club’s Executive Committee, who will then vote. “It’s a straightforward process,” adds Hunter. “You don’t want to make it difficult for someone to help people.”

The meeting will consist of a thought for the day, address club business, and present guest speakers that include nonprofit leaders to local government officials, Veterans, educators, new members, and more. At the same time, raising funds through 50/50 raffles and “happy dollars,” where each member has the opportunity to share something positive that happened during the week, providing an additional method of connecting in more profound ways beyond the club. “It’s a great time to come together and have fellowship with other members while learning from the array of guest speakers,” says Goodwin. “It’s good to understand the richness happening throughout our communities, whether it’s the museums in town, assorted charities working with the homeless, battered women, Veterans, children, or learning about the community-based work of local banks – it gives us understanding of what is happening where we live and work so we know how we can build partnerships moving into the future.” One word repeatedly heard from local Rotarians in describing their meetings is a word not often associated with meetings: fun. “We’re a social group,” comments Bagushinski. “We genuinely enjoy each other’s company.”

For the good of the community Whether it’s donating time, funds, or helping make connections, Rotary has a place for anyone wanting to give back to their community through the values of “Service Above Self.” LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com

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the differences they’ve witnessed throughout their membership experiences. “Our communities are only as good as what each of us puts back into them,” states Goodwin. “Any Rotarian would acknowledge that any time someone can point to how they’ve benefited from being a member, they will say there is always an opportunity to give back in some form.” For those seeking a structured avenue for giving back to their community while connecting with others who share similar values, LA is proud and fortunate to have two thriving clubs to fulfill this need. Oak Hill High School graduate, Elise Worth, speaks after being awarded a Rotary scholarship “It’s about doing what you want, within your means, to help others,” explains Hunter. “We fundraise, but it doesn’t have to be monetary – you can volunteer your time, speak with others – anything to make the space around you a little bit better.” For many members, the return on membership far exceeds the investment. “If I serve, I’m going to get back what I need,” says Foster. “You get back what you give, and Rotary is a wonderful way to put that idea into action. I can have a better day if I’m giving back to others.” This feeling of bettering the self through bettering the community is felt amongst Rotarians throughout both clubs, citing

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“We’re all responsible for making the community in which we live a better place,” MacDonald says. “It’s gratifying to recognize that even one individual can make a difference.” All Rotarians share the goal of making a difference, and the work is never truly done. “There is so much need out there – so much poverty,” Kelsea comments. “To know that you can help in any way – that’s what it’s about and why we stay.” Auburn-Lewiston Rotary Breakfast Club 439 Park Avenue, Auburn • www.auburn-lewistonrotary.org Lewiston-Auburn Rotary Club 150 Mill Street, Lewiston • www.lewistonauburnrotary.org


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