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Atop a rolling sea in 1994, one crew member of the offshore lobster boat Stacie Vea measures and bands a catch of lobsters while another crew member sets the traps again in the cold, deep water of the Gulf of Maine.
Hello Bulletinbeans: It's Thursday, June 10. 

Get ready for a little shameless promotion, friends: Summer is happening here in the county, and that means we're all looking to get out and about. But where to go? There's all the usual things to do, of course - biking in Acadia, watching the sunset on Cadillac Mountain - but did you know you can also take a bird carving class, or visit an historic fort, or haul lobster traps with Linda Greenlaw or ride your bicycle off-road from Ellsworth to Canada?

Every summer, we at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander put together a monthly publication called Out & About. The June issue, out now, can be found in hotels, businesses and chambers of commerce across the county and beyond or online at acadiavisitor.com. It's full of information on public boat launch sites, our favorite beaches and all sorts of other activities. Whether you live here or have friends coming to visit, you should check it out. (For the July issue, we list the ten best homemade donuts in the county, which required very in-depth, investigative reporting, some of our most controversial to date.)

Onward.
 
In the weather: Cooler this weekend, with lows in the mid 50s and highs in the lows 70s. The water temperature is hovering around 53 degrees - as always, wear your lifejacket and stay safe in the water.
 
High tide on the Union River is at 11:52 a.m.; low tide is at 5:47 p.m.
NATASHA FOUTCH PHOTO

Torrential rains destroy Birch Harbor bridge

Torrential rains overnight Tuesday and into early Wednesday morning heavily damaged the small bridge at the head of Birch Harbor, making that section of Route 186 impassable. Flooding also was reported in sections of the Pond Road (Route 195). In downtown Winter Harbor, at the corner of Route 186 and Newman Street, incoming motorists were being advised to turn around. “The bridge under the hill is pretty much gone,” Gouldsboro Board of Selectmen Chairman Dana Rice reported Wednesday morning.


American Aquafarms reps, critics take sides at Gouldsboro park

The tastiness of the refreshments was the one undisputed topic at a lively, open-air meeting held Saturday by both American Aquafarms and opponents of the Norwegian-backed company’s proposed plan to raise 66 million pounds of Atlantic salmon annually at two sites in Frenchman Bay. “No Industrial Scale Fish Factory in Frenchman Bay” was among the roadside banners and signs at the Gouldsboro Town Park, where the company and opponents offered information to the public at opposite ends of the green. 

“I love it,” admitted Harmon’s Tire & Service Center owner Albert Harmon, who recently was on his hands and knees singlehandedly planting 200 begonias and black-eyed Susans on High Street in Ellsworth. Beside the main display of annuals, Harmon had two more beds to plant. For 35 to 40 years, assisted by his wife, Barbara, Harmon has put on this annual flower show for motorists passing through the city. He loves to garden but is also motivated by the public’s queries about when he’s going to plant. The questions start coming as early as April. For the curious, planting is always after the full moon in May.

Dam appeal denied

The Board of Environmental Protection last week upheld the state’s denial of a water quality certification for Black Bear Hydro Partners’ Ellsworth and Graham Lake dams, leaving their future in limbo.  The Department of Environmental Protection had previously denied the key certification that is needed for the federal relicensing process of the dams, but Brookfield Renewable, Black Bear Hydro’s parent company, appealed the decision.  The Ellsworth dam forms the Leonard Lake riverine impoundment and the Graham Lake dam forms the Graham Lake storage reservoir. 


Hospital birthing center planned

A new and state-of-the-art birthing center at Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital will be the major part of planned improvements at the campus in 2022 and bring the OB/GYN unit next to the operating rooms. The relocation was originally planned during a 2010 remodel that added the current emergency department, Maine Coast President John Ronan said. “It just never happened.” The newly launched plan is aimed at improving the experience for expecting and new mothers. One way the new center will accomplish this is individual patient rooms — a change Maine Coast plans to bring throughout the hospital.

Chandler named Legendary Warden

In a year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, retired Lt. Langdon “Smally” Chandler did not receive the typical pomp and circumstance following his receipt of the state’s 2019 Legendary Game Warden of the Year Award. The honor recognizes retired wardens who “display exceptional expertise in the areas of conservation, law enforcement and since retiring [have] continued to provide a passion for meeting the goals and mission of the Maine Warden Service.”


Demand for community meals surged in 2020

The prep work was well under way at 7:30 on a recent Monday morning, as Ron King chopped the ends off Brussels sprouts in the St. Dunstan’s basement kitchen. The roasted sprouts are a favorite at Everybody Eats!, which serves a free community meal each Monday afternoon from 2:30-4 at the State Street church. But, of course, the work begins much earlier for the day’s featured main dish —a turkey-and-veg strata, served with rolls and dessert. At the pandemic height, Everybody Eats! was delivering 170 meals. Now, that number has fallen to about 120 per week, King said, still a jump from pre-COVID times.

Project looks to restore Seal Cove fishway

It is a challenge for alewives to make it from Seal Cove to Seal Cove Pond.  The arduous journey isn’t very long, but the brook that connects the bodies of water has two pinch points that make it difficult for the small anadromous fish to swim from the ocean and into the pond to spawn.  One obstacle is the current dam, which can be seen from the road, and its struggling fish ladder. The other is the remnants of a previous dam farther downstream. Misha Mytar, a senior project manager with Maine Coast Heritage Trust, has been coming out to the run for about three years, and says there are few fish to find. “I’ve been involved for three years and essentially seen no fish,” she said.  


Female lobsters are getting smaller, but what about the next generation?

As Maine’s waters are growing warmer and more acidic, lobster researchers are looking at how that’s affecting both the mothers and offspring of the state’s most prized crustacean.  One thing is known for sure: Mature female lobsters have been shrinking.  Over the past three years, Jesica Waller, a lobster scientist at the state’s Department of Marine Resources, has collected and analyzed more than 1,200 female lobsters along the coast. She has found that since the 1990s, mature females are getting smaller.  Lobsters may be able to adapt to a changing environment, but it takes a significant amount of energy that comes from a limited budget. “So, if they’re spending a lot of energy on building proteins to respond to stressors, something else has to give,” Niemisto said. 

Craftsman’s whimsical whirligigs much in demand

Whirligigs— the fun-to-say lawn ornaments which are equal parts whimsical and mechanical, are a bit of a rarity these days. But drive past 44 Main St. and you will find the colorful constructions planted in front of the striking Victorian home of Dave Schoolcraft. Dave started crafting the whirligigs a few years ago as a hobby to enjoy during his retirement. He also was looking for projects to stay busy following the death of his beloved wife, Judy, in 2019. “People keep buying the darn things,” Dave said with a laugh in a recent interview. 

Retiring educators made rural school a home

After 32 years of leading the Airline School, teaching principal Andy Bryan is letting go. So is his wife Beth Bryan, who came to “The Airline” in 1989 as a newly minted special education teacher. Andy tagged along as an ed tech but knew the school, as it knew him, from a stint as a long-term substitute the year before. “I’m an ed tech success story,” Andy laughed. The love they feel for the school shone from both as they recalled the more than three decades spent there. With a pre-K through eighth-grade student population that hovers around 45 students, it is the quintessential small rural school. But the rural Airline School of 1989 isn’t the same as the one in 2021.

GSA boys win regional tennis crown; EHS girls fall in semis

One Hancock County tennis team claimed a regional title Tuesday as another saw a memorable season end in the weekend’s semifinals. The George Stevens Academy boys’ team claimed the Class C North crown with a victory over Van Buren in Tuesday’s regional final at Schenck High School. The Ellsworth girls’ team fell to Waterville in Saturday’s Class B North semifinals, but not before the team claimed one last playoff win.

Heard Around Town: In last week’s issue, The American published a photo of a dune buggy built by Nelson Salman, an eighth-grader at The Bay School in Blue Hill. But Nelson wasn’t the only student to come up with a blockbuster project. Hunter Newbert, who hunts with his father and grandfather, hand-made and milled a gun. Ansel Tenny (above) studied theatrical costuming and made a Marie Antoinette style dress by hand. Maya Skene learned to sew and made outfits for four first-grade girls.

Head of School Marcia Diamond said the project is an expectation of successful completion of eighth grade at the school. “We don’t give ‘grades’ like traditional schools, so the students have a list of expectations to meet for the project, and we find their motivation comes from their excitement about the project and their understanding that they want to present well for their audience.”
 
Going out? Get vaccinated if you haven't already! Here's the updated guidance from the Maine CDC. A note: we highlight a few events here each week, but there's lots going on we don't have room for! Check out the calendar to see more.

On Saturday: get some grub at the drive-thru Blueberry Pancake and French Toast Breakfast from 6 to 10 a.m. at the Trenton Fire Station, go on a natural scavenger hunt from 10 a.m. to noon at the Schoodic Institute, look for treasures at the Dorcas Library Attic Treasures sale from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then drop into Pride celebrations happening in Blue Hill, and Bucksport (Ellsworth is having a Pride celebration on Sunday).

On Sunday, take in some live music by New Shades of Blue from 5:30-8:30 p.m at Otter’s Waterfront Eatery in Castine.

As of Wednesday, each citizen’s share of the outstanding public debt was $85,186, up $63 from $85,123 last week. Students who attend school in Maine leave with an average student loan debt of $32,521.

Dad joke of the day: What did one tectonic plate say after it bumped into the other? "Sorry, my fault."
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