Be present. Take more time to be thankful. Meditate more. Take care of yourself and one another.

Expand arts programming for teens and the elderly. Tackle problems of obesity, substance abuse and how to age in place. Keep funding sustainable for a community library.

Stimulate and maintain growth and increase connectivity in communities.

These are some of the goals — both personal and professional — for some central Maine residents and the organizations and businesses they lead as they prepare for the new year.

Here’s what they had to say:

Steve Bracy, president, Western Maine Homeless Outreach


Franklin County’s only homeless shelter still is working toward a goal of moving into a new facility in downtown Farmington, and it will be embarking on a capital campaign to raise $140,000 for the move in 2019.

“We had hoped they would get in by fall, but it’s taken longer than expected between hiring an architect and a contractor and people’s vacations,” Bracy said. “They’re going to stay put where they are through the winter, and we’re going to push the capital campaign.”

The shelter is planning to relocate from its current location on Wilton Road to the Holman House at 227 Main St., a move shelter leaders have said would allow them to double capacity, from about 16 beds to 30.

Bracy said they will be looking for new board members in 2019 and others who can help push the capital campaign.

“With the move we’ll need more staff,” he said. “Our numbers will increase and we’ll be able to have more beds. We want to get them in a new facility where they can expand and grow.”

Danny Chapman, Chapman’s Heating Oil, Gardiner


Chapman’s Heating Oil experienced steady growth in 2018 that Chapman, owner of the Gardiner business, hopes that will continue in 2019.

“Business was good (because) I think the economy is good,” he said. “Everything is good now. Everybody is spending money.”

Chapman added that people “seem to be happy” in central Maine, and that translates into more spending. In economic downturns, he said, his business sees a small blip in sales.

“If the economy is real bad, we’ll see a cutback in how much they order,” he added. “We’re not really seeing that now.”

Tim Curtis, town manager, Madison

The Somerset County town is looking forward to positive redevelopment and, hopefully, reinvestment in the former Madison Paper Industries site in 2019, Curtis said.


“The clouds that have been hanging over the town since the closure of Madison Paper in 2016 are beginning to part and we anticipate brighter days ahead,” he said in an email. “After years of valuation losses and tax rate increases, the town enters 2019 with a stabilized tax base poised to build on small investments.”

Jaime Broce of Somerset Acquisition LLC stands on April 20, 2017, in front of the former Madison Paper’s No. 3 paper making machine, which was sold in October 2018. Developers hope the removal of the machine will entice new interest in developing the shuttered facility. Town Manager Tim Curtis said “the town enters 2019 with a stabilized tax base poised to build on small investments.”

In the last few years, Madison received designations from the state as a Certified Business-Friendly Community and from AARP as one of Maine’s Age Friendly Communities, two recognitions Curtis said the town hopes to continue to build on in the coming year.

As town manager, Curtis said, one of his goals is to continue to maintain strong relationships and communication between the Board of Selectmen and other boards and committees, including the school board, the Planning Board and the library trustees.

“It has been my experience that cooperation and communication between all these entities is essential to the health and stability of our community,” Curtis said.

Shannon Haines, president and CEO, Waterville Creates!

The Waterville-based arts organization had a successful year in 2018 with the merger of the Maine Film Center and Waterville Opera House and ongoing plans to transform Waterville’s The Center into a downtown arts hub.


“One of our big goals is to increase attendance at all of the arts programs at Common Street Arts, the film center and the Waterville Opera House,” Haines said. “We’re trying to reach new and diverse audiences.”

In 2019, Haines said, the nonprofit will be working with other partners in the community to engage young people in the arts, whether it be through offering programs at the South End Teen Center in Waterville or engaging Colby College students at the new Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons.

Waterville Creates! also is hoping to raise its portion of funding for the new downtown arts center by the end of 2019. The group is responsible for $2 million, while Colby College has pledged the remaining $16 million to $18 million.

“2018 was a huge year for us with the merger,” Haines said. “In 2019 we need to do a good job educating people about what that means. In terms of programming, we’ll still see the same programming. In terms of delivery, we’ll have more staff focused on delivering those programs to the community so hopefully we can offer more and better of the same programming people are used to.”

Rep. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade

Keschl said he is looking forward to working across the aisle with fellow legislators in the new year. He said his focus will be on providing relief on property taxes, which would help Belgrade specifically, because the town has a high valuation.


“We have a lot of people (in Belgrade) who can’t afford those taxes,” he said. “I want to do what’s right for the Maine people (and) I’m really work and want to work in a collaborative way to do those things.”

Belgrade Town Manager Dennis Keschl, who is also a Republican state representative, is seen at the Town Office.

Keschl said he also will look to stimulate Maine’s economy and add jobs.

At the local level, Keschl said, he wants to help improve the quality of lakes in House District 76 — Belgrade, Fayette, Mount Vernon, Rome, Vienna and Wayne. Carol Johnson, president of the Belgrade Lakes Association board of directors, said the association is looking improve water quality in Great Pond and Long Pond for the “continued enjoyment of residents and visitors.”

Matt L’Italien, project director, Somerset Public Health

The community health organization in Somerset County has three areas of focus for 2019: obesity prevention, substance abuse prevention and aging healthfully.

On a broader note, L’Italien said, the group is hoping to form more local partnerships and engage communities in the task of improving the health of their own residents.


“We realize we can’t be the leaders of health in a community and be able to serve everyone,” he said. “Really, a major thrust for this year is looking at how we can direct resources and our expertise to communities to empower them to take charge of the health in their own community.”

When it comes to substance abuse, L’Italien said, there is a big push statewide to reduce stigma so people who are struggling will seek help.

“The opioid crisis has a lot of us thinking about how do we make it easier for someone struggling to get help?” he said. “A lot of that is about how we talk about the disorder and making sure we’re not stigmatizing the condition.”

Somerset Public Health also is working with communities to develop supports for older residents so they can age in place and stay in their communities. They are working on action plans in Skowhegan, Madison and Jackman; and less formal efforts are getting started in other communities, L’Italien said.

On a personal note, L’Italien said he hopes to “be more present and take more time to be thankful for all the blessings we have.”

Rep. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, seconds the nomination of Matt Dunlap, far right, for secretary of state as he watches the joint convention from behind the glass in back of House chamber on Dec. 5, 2018, at the State House in Augusta.

Rep. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro


Maxmin said her biggest goal is to amplify voices from District 88 — Whitefield, Jefferson, Chelsea and part of Nobleboro — in Augusta. She said constituents she spoke with during her campaign felt disenfranchised because their voices were not being heard in Augusta.

“The No. 1 thing I heard when I knocked on doors is that … government has stopped listening to us,” she said, citing problems with health care and education. “When we have no avenue through which to change those things we’re facing every day, we feel hopeless.”

Maxmin said she plans to be readily available within the district for constituents with concerns. She said she would hold events, one called Coffee with Chloe, to foster community engagement.

“We have these traditional avenues to reach out to people who represent us, like a phone call or email.” she said. “(An email) is not adequate when so much is at stake.”

Pat Mulligan, owner, Portland Pie Co., Waterville

After opening in the former Haines Building at 173 Main St. in Waterville in June, business has been “really good,” Mulligan said.


“Now that we’re here and established, we want to focus on being a little more connected to the community,” he said. That will include focusing on charity events and voucher nights in 2019.

The restaurant already partnered recently with the Mid-Maine Technical Center for a voucher night with 10 percent of proceeds donated to the technical center.

“We want to focus on anything to do with food instability and kids and try and work with local schools,” Mulligan said. “That’s a big thing for us. Now that we feel comfortable and established, we want to be more a part of the community.”

He said business has been good in the months since the restaurant entered into a 10-year lease with Colby College, which owns the 173 Main St. building and is helping to revitalize downtown.

“We’re definitely looking forward to everything else that’s going to happen downtown,” Mulligan said.

Peter Precourt, an art professor at the University of Maine at Augusta, is seen June 21, 2016, outside a space where he opened a temporary art gallery at 265 Water St. in Augusta.

Peter Precourt, associate art professor at the University of Maine at Augusta


Precourt, who is also owner of the Pop-Up 265 art gallery in Augusta, said he hopes to continue fostering a connection among artists, municipalities and community members in the new year. He said he instructs students to introduce art in their communities, which are primarily smaller communities in Maine, and make it more accessible to citizens.

“As time moved forward, I thought it would be really important to, as an artist, engage my community,” said Precourt, who has painted murals in Augusta, Waterville and Gardiner. “The artists need the community as much as the community needs artists.

As he looks into 2019, Precourt said some work being done on the building that houses Pop-Up 265 might force the gallery elsewhere, but he will “pop up into a difference place” with the same goals.

Peter Prescott, owner of E.J. Prescott

A group of Augusta area business owners is working together on a program to promote local businesses to a younger demographic in hope of stopping young adults from moving away from the state.

The exodus of young adults has befuddled the state, which has a rapidly aging population, for a number of years.


Prescott said he hopes business owners can help address that problem.

“If you think about it, the community — (Augusta, Gardiner and surrounding towns) — is really like a Disney World. We’ve got almost everything there is for everybody; we’ve got theaters, bowling alleys, ice rinks, just about everything you can think of.

He said an initial meeting of this group, which does not have a name, featured area 16 businesses.

Prescott’s goal for his company was to continue growth to help support their roughly 300 employees and their family, as well as make contributions to local community organizations and charities.

Tammy Rabideau, left, the new director of the Waterville Public Library, pictured here with librarian Jennifer DeSalme at the main desk on Nov, 14, aims to continue the work developed under previous director Sarah Sugden and to explore ways to increase funding and programs in 2019.

Tammy Rabideau, director, Waterville Public Library

“I hope to continue the good work the library has been doing for a while now, continuing to take care of the people we serve, the people who serve from the library and to continue to serve the community kindly and compassionately,” said Rabideau, who took over as director in November. “I want to continue to strive to have something for everyone and of course strive for funding.”


The library, which operates on an annual budget of $667,000, in recent years has had to cut hours because of a lack of money, including doing away with Sunday and Friday evening hours.

In 2019, as the library engages in a strategic planning process, she said, she hopes it can come up with ways to increase and sustain funding while also offering new and innovative programming. About 72 percent of funding comes from the city of Waterville, and the rest from private fundraising, Rabideau said.

Workforce development is one area the library has focused on in past years, and Rabideau said she hopes to offer more resources for job seekers in 2019.

Opportunities to partner with Colby College also have grown, especially with the opening of the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons in September.

In the fall semester, Colby students started a computer coding program on Saturdays for children ages 9 to 14 to practice computer programming, Rabideau said. It’s the type of partnership she said she hopes to see more of going forward.

“Whole health is what I want for myself, the library and the whole community,” she said. “It’s important to take care of oneself and one another in a compassionate, kind and intentional way.”


Bill Stone, Winthrop Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce

Stone, the president of the board of directors at the Winthrop Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, said increasing membership is a priority for the group. He said membership is higher around Winthrop, the region’s business center, but tapers off around Wayne and Manchester.

“There’s quite a vibrant, robust community of people working in those (outer) towns,” he said. “One of my goals personally is to pull those folks together so we can take advantage of each other’s resources.”

Stone said the Chamber is in the beginning stages of a campaign to revitalize downtown Winthrop. He said some new businesses, such as Van der Brew brewery on Summer Street, excite the Chamber and could lead the way to more food and drink in Winthrop.

Stone said the Chamber also is looking grow tourism, relying heavily on the region’s lakes and recreation they provide.

“People … come from all over the United States to get married here. It seems like something that should be built upon,” Stone said. “We’ve got all of these lakes. It’s a great recreational area.”


Western Maine Community Action Home Repair Coordinator Peter Thayer stands outside a home in Chesterville that was rebuilt in 2017 with help from WMCA and students from the Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington. Executive Director Jim Trundy said the Wilton-based nonprofit is aiming to tackle goals in several programs, including employment and training, housing and its Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Jim Trundy, interim executive director, Western Maine Community Action

The Wilton-based nonprofit agency is looking to tackle goals in several programs, including employment and training, housing and its Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Trundy said. The energy program, which provides direct payments for income-eligible households in need of heating assistance, has already seen more applications for the winter season than last year, he said.

The agency is also hoping to grow workforce training in Kennebec and Somerset counties through partnerships with employers, community colleges and adult education programs.

Trundy said the agency is feeling optimistic about incoming Gov. Janet Mills.

“I think the fact Medicare expansion is high on her list is a good thing,” Trundy said. “There’s a lot of people in need of that assistance — getting medical care and having it paid for. I think that’s a good indication of what her philosophy is going to be.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368


[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.