AUBURN, Maine — Auburn’s outlet beach opened as scheduled Tuesday but swimming will be banned there for the foreseeable future. City Manager Clinton Deschene said the water in the outlet has failed quality tests eight of the last 13 times it was tested. According to a City Council decision in May, swimming won’t be allowed at the beach until it passes those tests consistently. “But the park will be open,” Deschene said. “It’s open for public access and recreation, but there will be no swimming.” Called Lake Grove Park, it will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, through Sept. 3. The park has picnic tables, gazebos, playground equipment and grills. A summer renovation project calls for building two beach volleyball courts. The park and beach were open for swimming last summer, but swimming was shut down twice after Coliform bacteria was found in the water. The bacteria can cause minor skin and eye infections, gastrointestinal disorders and respiratory illness. (read more at Bangor Daily News)
TOWNSHIP 2 RANGE 9 — An icon to recreationalists headed toward Baxter State Park, the often photographed Pockwockamus Rock has been a fresh yet almost entirely original face to the world for 23 years thanks to Abbott and Nancy Meader. The artists and annual Baxter park campers from Oakland have repainted the mural on the large rock a mile from the park’s south entrance since Maine Youth Conservation Corps volunteers first created it in 1979. This year will be their last. “We are looking for other artists to do it now,” said 75-year-old Nancy Meader, a potter and painter who plans to shop for successors after she writes about painting the rock for the Friends of Baxter State Park newsletter. The 77-year-old Abbott Meader said the couple has enjoyed the volunteer work but wants to retire. Painting a several-ton boulder in the middle of the north Maine woods can be taxing, as Meader discovered during the couple’s first restoration in 1990. “I found out what Pockwockamus means,” Meader said he announced at the time. “It’s Penobscot Indian, of course, and it stands for ‘all the mosquitoes in the world.’” (read more at Bangor Daily News)
The best Maine has to offer its many visitors is often summed as “lobsters and lighthouses,” and according to the thousands of tourists and residents alike who go up and down the coastline to view the latter, that statement is at least half right. For our complete online lighthouse guide, click here. According to the Maine Geological Survey, the state has 3,478 miles of tidal-influenced shoreline, counting all the nooks and crannies that form the coast from Kittery to Calais. Before the time of advanced instruments, that coastline was protected by lighthouses, 65 in all, from Whaleback Light at the mouth of the Piscataqua River, to Whitlock’s Mill Light on the south side of the St. Croix River. (read more at Keep Me Current)
With melting snowbanks, warmer temperatures and easier commutes comes the need to get out and do things that remind us it’s springtime in Maine. We’ve mostly got the state to ourselves before summer rolls around and visitors arrive from all corners of the world, so let’s enjoy it. If you need some help figuring out how to spend a day or two, we’ve assembled a list of 25 things to do this spring that we think will appeal to a variety of people — from nature lovers and outdoors enthusiasts to foodies, music fans and youngsters (and those young at heart). (read more at Bangor Daily News)
Churchill Downs Inc. announced that it will buy Oxford Casino in Oxford for about $160 million, to be paid in cash. The Maine Gaming Control Board needs to approve the transaction — which is on track to close at the end of 2013. The casino opened in June 2012 — two years after Maine voters approved it in a statewide referendum. It employs more than 400 employees. It has a 25,000-square-foot gaming floor with 790 slot machines and 22 table games. The casino also hosts a 140-seat casual restaurant – Oxford Grill. In December, the casino reported $30 million in net revenues from slot machines and table games. Bob Bahre, a founder of Black Bear Realty, said in a news statement released by Churchill Downs that his primary reason for getting involved in the project was to bring jobs to the region. “We are extremely proud of the property and, more importantly, of the incredible team that works at Oxford Casino. Although we developed the property, operating casinos is not our core business, and we thought that the time was right to look for a major gaming company that could take this property to the next level. (read more at Lewiston Sun Journal)
BANGOR, Maine — Playboy Magazine’s Miss May 2006 Alison Waite will visit Hollywood Casino on March 2, the casino announced Friday. Waite, who graduated from San Diego State University in 2005 with a master’s degree, was one of four finalists for Playmate of the Year in 2007, according to a press release from the casino. She also has appeared on poker television shows, “Girls Next Door,” and “Kendra.” (read more at Bangor Daily News)
AUGUSTA – The “Hooked on Fishing” Kids’ Derby is set for Range Ponds State Park on Monday, Feb. 18, when the Presidents Day national holiday will be observed. This is the fourth Kids’ Derby at the park, located off the Empire Road in Poland.
The Derby runs from 8 a.m. to noon, and all that kids have to do is show up and drop a line in the water. Volunteers from the Sebago Lake Rotary will drill fishing holes through the ice early that morning, and other volunteers will be on hand to bait hooks, mostly with small shiners.
The event is an introduction to ice fishing, organized for children not familiar with the activity. “This is a wonderful opportunity to take your kids out for an enjoyable and educational experience,” said Walt Whitcomb, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), which includes the Division of Parks and Public Lands. “Ice fishing is a Maine tradition, and there’s no better way for kids to learn how to ice fish than by doing it.”
There is no charge for children 12 and under, and the first 500 who pre-register and arrive at the park by 10 a.m. will receive free ice fishing rigs, courtesy of Kittery Trading Post. Click here to download and print a PDF registration form or sign up online at 2013 Online Registration – KTP Kid’s Derby!
Lower Range Pond will be stocked with 500 brook trout. The stocking will take place close to Derby day, and event officials are asking that no “pre-fishing” take place. “Even if you do catch and release, it has an impact on how quickly fish will resume feeding,” said Francis Brautigam, a fish biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
The Kids’ Derby follows a major ice fishing derby on nearby Sebago Lake on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 16 and 17, a free fishing weekend. Both events are part of the Great Maine Outdoors Weekend.
According to park officials, the recent cold weather should create ideal ice conditions.
February 13, 2013
Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
AUGUSTA – Stephen Burns remembers admiring trains as a child, but he’s not sure why he fell in love with model railroads. “I don’t know what it is,” said Burns, 73. “I’m not fascinated in the least bit by video games or slot cars. I’ve always been fascinated by trains, and I probably will be as long as I last.” Whatever the reason, he wasn’t alone in his passion at the annual Whitefield Lions Club Model Railroad and Doll House Show held Saturday at the Augusta State Armory. Event organizer Steve Laundrie said that each year 700 to 800 people usually attend the event, which is the club’s second-largest fundraiser behind its Windsor Fair activities. (read more at Portland Press Herald)
Travel + Leisure magazine is no stranger to Portland, or vice versa. Over the past few years, the publication has lauded Maine’s largest city as being one of America’s “greenest,” having one of America’s best farmers’ markets, having one of America’s best brunch spots, and less flatteringly, having some of America’s worst dressed people. This month, Portland is back on the positive side of things, getting a ranking among the nation’s top 20 “cities for gay travel.” The city places No. 15 on the list, just behind No. 14 Los Angeles and just ahead of No. 16 Boston. (read more at Bangor Daily News)
BANGOR, Maine — The Bicycle Coalition of Maine unveiled Wednesday the route of the organization’s first-ever BikeMaine 2013 event, and 350 determined cyclists will spend seven days in September touring several popular destinations in eastern Maine. The 400-mile tour will start in Orono on Sept. 7, and make overnight stops in Dover-Foxcroft, Belfast, Castine, Bar Harbor and Ellsworth before returning to Orono on Sept. 13. Organizers unveiled the route during a press conference in Bangor on Wednesday afternoon. “[This] is probably the biggest initiative that we’ve had in 20 years, and we see this extraordinary event as the vehicle that will bring the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s message and mission to all parts of the state, will showcase the fantastic biking that we have in Maine, and will realize the tremendous economic potential of bicycle tourism in Maine,” said Nancy Grant, the executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine during the press conference and reception. (read more at Bangor Daily News)