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A benefit concert for the Washington County Special Olympics is set for Saturday, April 26th from 2-4 p.m. The event, designed by UMM student Landon Knitweiss was in actuality, part of a class led by Jo-Ellen Harvey, the driving force behind the Special Olympics that is held each year at the University.

The Washington County Special Olympics has become one of the larger Special Olympics events in the region, with many traveling from Hancock County to participate. During his programming class, Knitweiss and other students needed to assess that the program that they were designing was something that the community felt was necessary and would have an impact beyond themselves and UMM students.

Knitweiss knew that he wanted to incorporate music with his program, but didn't just want to put on another concert. He used the opportunity to raise awareness and money for the Special Olympics event that will take place on May 9th and other future Special Olympics events.

Knitweiss designed the program, created an advertising plan which included radio, Facebook and flyers and will conduct an assessment following the event. Kniweiss has some vested interest in the event, as he works at a summer camp with special needs children. He hopes that the event will grow as other community groups may get involved in future years to do similar benefits or support the Special Olympics in other ways.

Knitweiss is a member of the Fremont Street String Band, who will be performing the concert event on Saturday, April 26 from 2 – 4 p.m. at the Portside Room of Kimball Hall at the University. Adults are a suggested $5, while children under 18 are $3. All special Olympians will enter for free. There will be refreshments and all proceeds will go to the Special Olympics of Maine. 

Over 300 people attended the annual Smelt Fry at the Columbia Falls Fire Department grounds, sponsored by the Downeast Salmon Federation last Friday.  Despite being a bit cooler than expected as many clearly thought spring had sprung, dozens of volunteers and hundreds of kids and adults enjoyed the seemingly endless supply of flour-dredged and deep-fried, six inch long fishes that remain such an integral part of our region’s fishery and heritage, along with platters of slaw, blueberry cobbler and biscuits.

 

Hula hooping and a bounce-tent provided ample warming activity as the wind whipped over the water, and inside the entries of the winners of the rivers and fishing-themed Washington County Student Art Contest stood on display. The contest, which had 265 entries from local students K-12, crossed all mediums and delivered a striking net of budding talent.

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Local youth and parents can look forward to something new happening this summer at the Machias Valley Grange Hall. Partners in Presenting the Performing Arts (PIPPA) will be presenting summer camp at the Grange during the second and third week in July.

The first week of the program will be theatre camp, where local youth will write and produce their own plays, designing their own sets and costumes and acting. At the end of the week, the public will be invited to attend the showing of the plays.

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The Machias River Wigwams Program is gearing up for their second session this summer. The program is a collaboration between the Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF) and the Cobscook Community Learning Center (CCLC) and gives local youth the opportunity to learn skills and explore in a camp like setting.

Last year was the pilot program and was wildly successful with seven participants. DSF owns a camp at the Wigwams site on the bank of the Machias River and it was a site where many people were finding artifacts. The prospecting of the artifacts, however, was causing significant erosion. A test dig was done and the site was determined to already be disturbed.

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The 2014 elver season officially started on Sunday. After several attempted negotiations with the state, the Passamaquoddy tribe voted last week for individual catch quotas. They did so by amending Passamaquoddy Tribal Law.

“We did not agree to abide by state law,” said Passamaquoddy Tribal Council Member and Passamaquoddy Fisheries Advisory Committee member Newell Lewey. “We would never do that. We are abiding by Passamaquoddy Tribal Law.”

press release sent over the weekend in an attempt to correct a misquote by Passamaquoddy Chief Joseph Socobasin states, “After the State’s Attorney General alleged there were legal problems to a jointly agreed upon co-management plan, the State unilaterally pulled out of negotiations and ultimately passed a law [LD1625] that allowed the Tribe only two routes of safety for its Tribal members. Either the Tribe would have to amend their own law to reflect an individual catch quota or decide not to fish.”

The above decision came at a February 11th meeting. Passamaquoddy tribal members, Lewey included, were very confident going into that meeting, and felt steamrolled afterwards.

Lewey and other tribal members on the Fisheries Advisory Committee met for over 15 hours last week to come to a decision in time for the start of the season. It was a very difficult decision, with some tribal members stating that they would rather not go out to fish than to ammend the law to allow individual quotas. Many will go out and fish this season. There are over 350 tribal members who hold licenses.

The press release went on to say: Eel fishing is a vital part of Passamaquoddy Culture with Passamaquoddy eel camps noted on the earliest maps of the region. “We have preserved access to this fishery for our people,” said Vice-Chief Clayton Sockabasin who is also Chair of the Fishery Committee, “but none of us are comfortable with what has happened.” Vera Francis, Fishery Committee member, added, “We come to the table and negotiate with full transparency and intent to live up to our commitments. Each time, the State finds a way to force an unpalatable outcome. You would think that living up to their word would be a matter of honor. It is for us.”

Lewey does not expect this elver season to be as tumultuous as last. He says that at the end of the day, the tribe is excercising their inherint salt water fishing rights that were never relinquished.

 

The Machias Valley News Observer is located at 41 Broadway in Machias, Maine.
For more information please contact us at (207) 255-6561.

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