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Bristol Area Lions hear CEI Founder 01/15/2016

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Bristol Area Lions Club President Brendan Donegan (left) thanks CEI Inc. founder Ron Phillips for his talk.

At their meeting on Jan. 4, the Bristol Area Lions and their speaker enjoyed chicken cordon bleu with a cream sauce, roasted vegetables, rice, a tossed salad and grilled bread served by caterer Steve Hawks at the club’s winter meeting site, the Hawks House Inn in Walpole.

After dinner, CEI founder Ron Phillips explained how Maine’s first community development corporation and community development finance institution began. In 1977, President John F. Kennedy’s “war on poverty” gave rise to the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which was later amended to include a provision to fund community development corporations.

Phillips has a Master of Divinity degree and worked at the National Council of Churches Interfaith center of Corporate Responsibility before relocating to Maine. Through contacts from that work experience he was asked to come to Augusta to discuss forming a community development corporation in Maine.

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioner was instrumental in supporting the foundation of the CEI and after moving from Bath, Wiscasset became its base. The First of Damariscotta was one of the first banks to partner with CEI. The first investment was in the Boothbay Region Fish and Cold Storage in 1979 to help them rebuild and expand after a fire.

Other local businesses mentioned by Phillips helped by CEI were Spear Farms in Nobleboro, which now has 400 acres in cultivation, North End Lobster Co-op, on Westport Island, Masters Machine Co. in Bristol, the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and Hodgdon Yachts in East Boothbay, Muscongus Bay Aquaculture in Bremen, Sarah’s in Wiscasset and DeLorme Mapping in Yarmouth.

CEI does more than just providing financing. Serving on the staff are 12 MBA’s and CPA’s who assist beginning entrepreneurs with counseling and preparing business plans. In many cases CEI takes an equity position in the business and serves on their board of directors.

In October, CEI moved to Brunswick and in March 2016. After 38 years Ron Phillips will retire as president and CEO with pride in the organization and their accomplishments with more successes still ahead not only locally, but in all of Maine and nationwide.

At the business meeting that followed a number of Lions were thanked for their services in December: Michael Hope for organizing the Christmas food basket distribution, Herb Watson for organizing the Christmas party, and Walt Johannson for coordinating the winter shutdown of the Willing Workers Hall.

The next meeting will be on Monday, Feb. 1. To make dinner reservations for that meeting please call Herb Watson at 677-6191. To learn more about the Bristol Area Lions, serving Bristol and South Bristol, call Walt Johannson at 677-2584.

Bristol Lions Little League 05/15/2015

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The Bristol Lions Little League team, front kneeling from left: Matt Hanna, Tyler McFarland, Spencer Gamage, Hunter Brewer, Austin Brown and Ethan Pendleton. Back row standing from left: James Usher, Tucker Stiles, Aiden Seiders, Eben Lord Logan Willey and Wade Lane. Not shown: coach Ken Seiders, and asst. coaches Jason Lord and C. J. Pendleton.

The Bristol Lions Little League team, front kneeling from left: Matt Hanna, Tyler McFarland, Spencer Gamage, Hunter Brewer, Austin Brown and Ethan Pendleton. Back row standing from left: James Usher, Tucker Stiles, Aiden Seiders, Eben Lord Logan Willey and Wade Lane. Not shown: coach Ken Seiders, and asst. coaches Jason Lord and C. J. Pendleton.

The Bristol Area Lions Club sponsors the team and has for 48 years. Lions clubs helped support and popularize Little League since its first days and still do today.

The founder of Little League was Carl Stolz. He conceived of the idea of having full uniforms, an umpire, coaches and a manicured baseball diamond scaled for 8-to-12 year olds in Williamsport, P.A. in 1938. In 1939, four teams were formed and one of them was sponsored by the Williamsport Lions Club. Stoltz joined the Lions club in 1949.

2.6 million sign up for Little League each year. It is the world’s largest organized youth sports activity. A game is more than a game, “Little League itself represents the essence of America,” said baseball broadcaster Vin Scully in a 2014 documentary on Little League.

Bristol Lions Hear from New Owner of the Inn 01/14/2015

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King Lion Brendan Donegan (left) thanks Steve Hawks for his presentation.

King Lion Brendan Donegan (left) thanks Steve Hawks for his presentation.

The Jan 5th meeting of the Bristol Area Lions was held at the Hawks House Inn (formerly the Brannon Bunker Inn) in Walpole. New owner Steve Hawks spoke of his background in food services, hospitality and retail marketing and presented his plans for the renovated inn.

Hawks grew up in central New York state, where his first job while in high school was in a kitchen. He graduated in 1986 from S.U.N.Y. Morrisville and studied food service administration and hotel management. Upon graduation, he moved to Miami and worked in the kitchen for Marriott, but after a year decided corporate kitchens didn’t give him the autonomy he desired.

In 1987 he moved to Maine to work as a cook on commercial fishing boats for a year. The next two years were spent in a variety of restaurants, including his own catering food truck in Portland.

Hawks next went to Maui and worked on day cruises for a year. Since meeting Peter and Kim Erskine, he has worked at Mexicali Blues for the last 20 years while living in his own home in South Bristol.

Noticing the For Sale sign on the Brannon Bunker Inn, Hawks finally purchased it a year ago. His parents ran the inn during his last year with Mexicali Blues; he has now taken the helm.

Hawks has purchased new beds for all the rooms and plans on catering groups with a full kitchen and is completing commercial kitchen accreditation. Hawks House Inn includes the Main Inn, the Farmhouse, and the Cottage. Twelve rooms are available for guests to book, most of them are en suite. Guests can enjoy common areas, including several rooms with fireplaces, and two large screened-in porches.

Continental breakfast is served daily, and WIFI is available throughout the Inn. A common kitchen is available to guests and there is a strict no smoking policy. Well behaved dogs are welcome in the Farmhouse and the Cottage, but not the Inn, which is open year round, for more information visit http://www.hawkshousebnb.com

At the business meeting that followed, David Kolodin was thanked for organizing Liberty Day at Bristol Consolidated School for fifth graders with State Sen. Chris Johnson and Rep. Mick Devin on Dec. 12. Herb Watson was thanked for organizing the Christmas dinner at the Damariscotta River Grille on Dec. 15. Michael Hope was recognized for organizing the Christmas Food Basket distribution on Dec. 20.

The Bristol Area Lions have closed the Willing Workers Hall for the winter months and the next meeting on Feb. 2 will be at the Hawks House Inn. Our speaker will be Pemaquid resident, Stan Galvin a recent kidney donor. To make dinner reservations for that meeting call Herb Watson at 677-6191. Dinner will be Beef Stew with salad and rolls served by caterer David Atwater.

To learn more about the Bristol Area Lions Club, serving Bristol and South Bristol, contact Walt Johansson at 677-2584

Bristol Area Lions Club learn about role of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Maine 10/26/2014

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Lion John Janell (left) thanks Peter Tischbein for his enlightening talk.

Lion John Janell (left) thanks Peter Tischbein for his enlightening talk.

Peter Tischbein Project Manager, New England District, Maine Project Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was the speaker at the Oct. 20 meeting of the Bristol Area Lions Club.

He obtained a bachelors degree in biology from Susquehanna University and subsequently obtained a masters degree in environmental science from Rutgers University in l983.

Tischbein was hired as a civilian employee for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District,
Manhattan and became supervisor of the New York Harbor. While working in Manhattan he obtained his MBA from Pace University.

He moved to Maine in 1989 and worked for 14 years for various Maine engineering and environmental
consulting firms. In 2003, he rejoined the Corps, New England District, Maine Project Office headquartered in Manchester, Maine with five other engineers. Tischbein serves Waldo, Knox and Lincoln counties.

Tischbein gave a brief history the Corps going back to General Washington when it was created to shore up the Bunker Hill defenses. The Army established the Corps of Engineers as a separate branch in 1802. From the beginning the Corps contributed to both military and works of a civil nature.

In 1899, the Army Corps took on regulation of navigable rivers and harbor tidewaters were added. In 1972, with the Clean Water Act, all rivers and bodies of water, including any dredged materials and their disposal. Tischbein gave Bath Iron Works as an example – in that before any new vessel is launched the Kennebec River channel has to be dredged.

Other projects include permitting private and commercial piers, aquaculture, gas pipelines across water, Maine Turnpike Authority’s request to relocate the York toll plaza near a wetland, as well as residential subdivisions and commercial buildings near wetlands, and even a private driveway crossing a stream.

There are many factors considered in approving permits: conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environments concerns, historic values, fish and wildlife values, flood damage prevention, land use, navigation, recreation, water supply, water quality, wetland values, energy needs, safety, food production and the needs and welfare of the people. It is a real balancing process.

Of the many permits submitted 80 percent are completed in 60 days. Of those, 80 percent of permits are not appealable and 20 percent of larger projects will have public input. Many times it is a matter of suggesting modification of the scope or boundaries of a project.

The next meeting of the Bristol Area Lions is Monday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Willing Workers Hall in New Harbor. To make dinner reservations call Herb Watson at 677-6191. To learn more about the Club, serving Bristol and South Bristol, please contact Walt Johansson at 677-2584 or visit

Bristol Area Lions Club Gets Flavor of Round Top Ice Cream 06/05/2014

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Although a lot has changed at Round Top Ice Cream since Gary and Brenda Woodcock bought the business in 1987, an insistence on quality ingredients and good customer service has remained the same. At a recent presentation to the Bristol Area Lions Club, Gary Woodcock shared some of the history of Round Top Ice Cream, which began production in an old building on the grounds of Round Top Farm.

King Lion John Janell, left, thanks speaker Gary Woodcock of Round Top Ice Cream for his recent presentation to the Bristol Area Lions Club.

King Lion John Janell, left, thanks speaker Gary Woodcock of Round Top Ice Cream for his recent presentation to the Bristol Area Lions Club.

Sales took place at a screen-covered ice cream stand by the road, now the warming hut for the community ice rink. When land adjacent to the farm became available in the 1990s, Woodcock saw an opportunity and bought it, putting up a new building that emulated the Darrows Barn at Round Top Farm. Now manufacture and sales could take place under one roof.

In the winter, Woodcock noted, he produces a weekly average of 300 gallons of ice cream. That number swells to 3000 gallons per week in the summer, or 600 gallons every day. Three batch freezers accomplish this feat, one batch at a time and one flavor at a time, using local ingredients as much as possible. In-house production includes creating flavor labels along with the cardboard 3-gallon tubs used to hold scooped ice cream.

A native of Thomaston, Woodcock taught in Wiscasset for 37 years, running Round Top Ice Cream simultaneously for many of those years. By 2011 he was retired from both, but he still helps out his daughter Stephanie, who now runs the business, by making truck deliveries and troubleshooting as needed.

It is no surprise that Round Top Ice Cream was voted tastiest in the state in 2006, beating its nearest competitor by several thousand votes and validating what many Damariscotta customers know already.

The business meeting that followed Woodcock’s talk included updates on the Bristol Area Lions Club’s summer fundraisers for scholarship: the annual Golf Tournament and Silent Auction taking place at Wawenock Golf Club on Saturday, August 16 and raffle ticket sales taking place all summer long outside Reilly’s Store in New Harbor. The next meeting of the Bristol Area Lions Club, on Monday, June 16, will be the Club’s annual meeting and officer election.

As always, the Club encourages anyone interested in working together to serve the community to consider membership in the Lions. To learn more about the Bristol Area Lions Club, serving Bristol and South Bristol, contact Walt Johansson at 677-2584

Lions Christmas Baskets 12/24/2012

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From left: Lion Michael Hope, basket chairman carrying a family-sized box, Jeff Cheney with another box, Lions: Tom MacGregor, John Janell, Carolyn McKeon and Walt Johansson, taking a box to load into a vehicle. The Bristol Area Lions distributed 58 Christmas food baskets to Bristol and South Bristol homes on Dec. 22. Thanks to Paul Yates and Reilly’s market for picking and packing the baskets.  Not shown are participating Lions: Al Rottner, Al Sears, Art Nichols, Bill Byrnes, David Kolodin, Deb Storch and Herb Watson.  (Photo by Herb Watson)

From left: Lion Michael Hope, basket chairman carrying a family-sized box, Jeff Cheney with another box, Lions: Tom MacGregor, John Janell, Carolyn McKeon and Walt Johansson, taking a box to load into a vehicle. The Bristol Area Lions distributed 58 Christmas food baskets to Bristol and South Bristol homes on Dec. 22. Thanks to Paul Yates and Reilly’s market for picking and packing the baskets. Not shown are participating Lions: Al Rottner, Al Sears, Art Nichols, Bill Byrnes, David Kolodin, Deb Storch and Herb Watson. (Photo by Herb Watson)

Bristol Area Little League Team 05/30/2012

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Front row left to right: Matthew Sewall, Caleb Pendleton, Zach Gamage, Braxton Farrin and Austin Brown. Back row left to right: Ethan Fink, Coach, Corey Blanc, Sullivan Fink, Jacob Maker, Aiden Seiders, Lucas Kelsey, Travis Gamage, Asst. Coach and John Janell, Bristol Area Lions President. Missing from photo: Henry Spearman. The Bristol Area Lions have been sponsoring this team for 45 years. (Photo by Herb Watson)

“Parts, parts, parts!”: Bristol Area Lions Club Visits Masters Machine 04/11/2012

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To learn more about the community it serves, the Bristol Area Lions Club hit the road recently, touring Masters Machine Company in Round Pond. Hosted by company vice president George Masters, Jr., the Lions saw firsthand why Masters Machine’s tag line is “a measure of precision.”

Started by George Masters Sr. and his sons in 1957 in the historic Washington Schoolhouse in Round Pond Village, this “working machine shop” has grown into a facility that takes up over 100,000 square feet and employs nearly 100 people, including a third generation of the Masters family.

George Masters, Jr. explained that his company manufactures precision turned components for other companies’ products, most of which end up being used outside of New England. Certified as an ISO 9001 registered company, Masters Machine produces everything from truck transmission gears to fire extinguisher valves, and from cell tower cable connectors to military ship cargo storage system components.

The standard measuring guides found on every lobsterman’s vessel come from Masters Machine as well.

The scope of Masters Machine’s impact can be appreciated by the fact that its products find use in trucks, cars, jets, trains, ships, motorcycles, traffic lights, on Hoover Dam in Nevada, and even in France’s Eiffel Tower.

On any given day, one hundred different components are manufactured at the Masters plant. Each piece produced, and there are thousands manufactured each week, is inspected, washed, and double-checked for precise measurement before being shipped to the customer.

All design and building is done in-house. The company recycles as much as possible, from scrap metal cast off during manufacture to cleaning solution for machine parts to the cutting oil used to lubricate tools. George Masters emphasized that the success of his company is based on the collaborative effort of its employees, who undergo rigorous technical training to operate the facility’s complex machinery.

Following their tour, the Bristol Lions met back at Willing Workers Hall in New Harbor. Plans are set for the annual Elmer Tarr Roadside Clean Up on Saturday, April 21 at 8 AM. Any interested residents and organizations are welcome to meet at the Willing Workers Hall in New Harbor and to join the effort to keep the greater Bristol Peninsula free of litter. For more information, please contact Lion Stan Benner at 563-7172.

Also discussed was the 4th Annual Bristol Area Lions Foundation Golf Tournament, scheduled this year for Saturday, August 11. Proceeds from this important annual fundraiser support the Club’s academic scholarship fund and local charities. At the next meeting of the Bristol Area Lions Club, on Monday, April 16, Lincoln County News’ “coastal economist” Marcus Hutchins will be the featured speaker.

To make dinner reservations for that meeting, please call 677-2095. To learn more about the Bristol Area Lions Club, serving Bristol and South Bristol, contact John Janell at 563-7402.

Bristol Lions Learn About Public School Choice 11/19/2010

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Public school education in the state of Maine needs more choice, according to Dr. Judith Jones, executive director of the Maine Association for Charter Schools. In a recent presentation to the Bristol Area Lions Club, Jones explained that charter schools could very well offer that choice. They operate like a business, with contracts that are renewed only if their students are succeeding. Already legal in 40 states, the charter school concept needs only the proper legislation voted in to make this public school option available in Maine. By contract, a charter school must meet educational goals, attract enough students to sustain their program, and manage its funds well. The bottom line is accountability and with a current 20% dropout rate in the state’s public schools, Jones emphasizes that the time is right to offer an affordable choice to parents seeking the best possible public education for their children.

Dr. Jones is no stranger to the charter school concept, having fostered such programs in Washington, D.C. and in New Jersey before moving to Maine. A sociologist by training, for the last 15 years she has worked with 40 potential charter school organizers in the state and remarks about the growing enthusiasm to offer such a program. Federal grants are available to help launch charter schools in the community, and the focus and governance of each charter school
would vary with the interests of each school’s adult organizers. Free to families of all income levels, funding would derive from the per pupil allocation each town already spends on the public education of its children.

Accompanying Judith Jones was charter school community coordinator Dorothy Havey, whose own children attended the nationally regarded Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone, Maine. The only magnet school in the state, MSSM is very selective about the students it accepts, unlike a charter school where no student is turned away unless the school is oversubscribed. The idea of giving parents and their children a choice in secondary education, in the form of a magnet school or special interest charter school, has been shown to motivate and incentivize students to succeed.

The Bristol Area Lions Club will meet next on Monday, December 6, when Paul Kando of the Midcoast Green Collaborative will make a presentation on weatherization and energy efficiency. To make dinner reservations for that meeting, please call 677-2095, and to learn more about the Bristol Area Lions Club, contact Andy Noyes at 677-2213.

John Reny relates Reny history to Bristol Lions 02/21/2010

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On Feb. 15 the Bristol Lions welcomed John Reny, President of R.H. Reny Inc. He is a true Mainer born at Miles Hospital like his mother and grandmother, an indication of the deep roots he has in the community. Reny went to Lincoln Academy and majored in sociology at the University of Maine in Orono.

He and his brother Bob are carrying on the tradition of their father, Robert H. Reny.

R.H. Reny went to work for R.H. White in Boston, later he moved to back to Maine and started work in Damariscotta in 1948 at Senter’s Department store. The Senters provided him with meals and rented space to him in their home. After a year he requested a raise, received it had his rent raised. R.H. then quit, obtained a $5,000 G.I. loan and opened a store across the street in October 1949.

He discovered what a dire time it was for retailing in the winter. He had one employee, a woman. He loaded up his old Hudson and drove down the peninsulas selling door-to-door.

He didn’t sell much, drank a lot of coffee and supplied the folks with the news from S’cotti. Next spring the fishermen remembered his visits and came up to his store.

His second store was in Bridgeton which at that time was three hours away. He would close the Damariscotta store and drive three hours to open the store in Bridgeton. At the end of the day, he would drive home. He also drove to New York City to buy his goods, and then back in a day.

Most of the current Reny’s stores were bought, because in those days a store could be bought for $10,000. Although many are located downtown, some are also in shopping centers like the Renys in Camden.

When it came time expand into Belfast, John Reny was sent by his father to negotiate a lease for space for $1 a foot. The landlord was appalled at the offer and told him to go back to his father for another offer. He came back with an offer of ninety cents and told the landlord, “You had better take it- the next offer won’t be any better.”

When Cabbage Patch Dolls came out, Coleco sent them 12 dolls for Christmas. They raised the question of “What do you do with 12 dolls?

Renys gave them away by running a raffle in each of their 12 stores and it was wall-to-wall people.” The following year Coleco sent 24 before Christmas. They purchased 3000 Cabbage Patch Dolls made in South Africa with strange names and sold them for $19.99 each.

When Walmart came into Maine it was just like Renys. The company quickly figured out that you can’t out cheap, cheap.

Renys brought in quality goods like Carhartt, Columbia and Woolwich and went for value. Walmart was strong in hard goods, but not in soft goods. The first year versus Walmart sales were flat, the next year they increased by 3 percent.

Last year sales were up 5 percent. Renys now has between 400 and 500 employees in 15 locations. They enjoy the best credit rating from Dun & Bradstreet and don’t borrow money.

In 60 years the company has made a lot of friends and their vendors know they will be paid promptly. They get the first choice on small lots, but also are offered part of larger 10 trailer load lots before they go to larger retailers.

When the new warehouse was being built in Newcastle, Renys considered moving the two Damariscotta stores into the old warehouse building on Chapman Street. It was more spacious and had plenty of space for parking. They decided against it knowing that it would be the death of downtown Damariscotta.

Renys is the longest surviving family-owned business in Maine. John and Bob run the business now, and John’s daughter Faustine, who majored in business in college, has joined the family business. Generally, the odds of success of a second generation running a family business is only 30 percent and the third generation‘s success rate is only 15 percent. Renys is continuing to beat those odds!

The next dinner meeting of the Bristol Area Lions will be on Mon., March 1 at 6 p.m… It will be the annual “Speak-Out” speech competition, when the Lions hear from local Lincoln Academy students on a subject of their choosing. The winner moves to the next level of competition.
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