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Inside Bridgton - 6/15

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Posted: Friday, June 15, 2012 1:31 pm

Fired Up

The polls were busy Tuesday at the old Town Hall, which shows Bridgton residents are engaged and interested in politics and the town’s future. One ongoing issue is the budget, and trying to keep it balanced. One unfortunate victim of the last round of cuts is the annual fireworks fund, which has led locals to mount a campaign of their own to raise money to keep this great tradition alive.

Every Third of July, the grounds of Stevens Brook school are filled with thousands of revelers celebrating Independence Day, and the always impressive fireworks. Unfortunately this tradition costs money, $6,500 to be precise. The town usually covers some or all of the bill, but none this year. If you want to help keep this vital community tradition alive please donate to the Fireworks Fund. There are donation jars at businesses all over town, and at the Community

Center. Any amount will help, and the money must be raised by June 27 or Bridgton’s skies will be darker than ever on July 3.

Helpful Heifers

When I was 14 my aunt and uncle “donated” a goat in my name to a poor family in Africa. Being young and spoiled I was less than thrilled about not getting an actual present, but as I learned more about Heifer International I realized what a truly great gift it was.

Since its founding in 1944, Heifer International has helped more than 10 million rural farming families in 125 countries by providing them with livestock. The awesome twist is that in order to get the free animal, which provides vital farm work, milk and food to the poor, the family must in turn donate one of its offspring to another family. So that one animal gets paid forward, helping many, many others.

Join Jane Elwell at the Bridgton Library on Saturday, June 23, at 1 p.m. when she presents “One Man’s Dream,” the history of Heifer International. Elwell is a teacher and volunteer who recently returned from helping a family in Peru. She’ll speak about the experience and the amazing work the organization does as they fulfill their mission belief that “ending hunger begins with giving people the means to feed themselves.” This event is free and open to the public.

Safe Travels

Bridgton Hospital is sponsoring an AARP driver safety class for drivers age 50 and older from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Bridgton Community Center, 15 Depot St., Bridgton, on Monday, June 18.

My first reaction upon reading this press release was, “Good Lord, I’m only 7 years away from being eligible for this course.” My second reaction was acceptance that as we age our driving skills and reaction time slow, so it can’t hurt to keep our chops sharp on the road for our safety and others. The registration fee is $12 for AARP members, $14 for others. To register, phone the Bridgton Community Center at 647-3116.

BRAG Swag

The long-awaited Bridgton Recreation fields on Route 302 are in the final stages of completion, and volunteers are working to tighten up the few loose ends. They are having a Chinese and live auction on June 23 at the Naples American Legion, where doors open at 3 p.m. and the auction starts at 5 p.m. There will be a 50/50 raffles and a snack bar, and all proceeds will go toward the Laurie A. Carter Bergen memorial field at the Kendall and Anna Ham Recreation complex (BRAG) in Bridgton.

Special Ops

One of the most enduring and empowering experiences of my teen years was the summer work I did with MountainTop, a youth outreach program that did volunteer work for poor Appalachian families in East Tennessee. As a privileged child from Nashville, I remember being stunned by the poverty. As I got to know the people I realized that although their houses were shabby and they didn’t have as much money as some, they were much richer in other ways. They cooked us amazing Southern food, played old bluegrass songs on banjo and mandolin and shared what they could. One elderly woman gave me a hand-crocheted doily that was a work of art. I came away with a new appreciation of others’ lifestyles, as well as gratitude for my good fortune.

From June 18 through June 21, the streets of Bridgton will be filled with volunteers from the “Special Operations Youth Group” doing community service mission. Forty teens and adults will be helping the Bridgton Historical Society at Narramissic, assisting BRAG Fields, working for the Chamber of Commerce and doing much-needed work at the Bridgton Community Center.

These volunteers are members of an Air Force Chapel from Hurlburt Field Florida and will be joined by Air Force dependents from Nebraska, Colorado and Falmouth, Maine. This is SOY’s 10th anniversary of mission work, and previously they’ve worked on an Indian reservation in Montana, in the jungles of Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Camp Sunshine, Alabama, Michigan and Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

A special Community Kettle Dinner (as always, free for everyone) will be prepared and served by SOY at the Bridgton Community Center on Tuesday, June 19. All are welcome and encouraged to meet and swap stories with this wonderful group.

And “SOY” is not just about work, they have brought a “nine square” game that is sure to be fun for everyone. When you see the blue T-shirts on the street please give them a friendly Bridgton welcome, and please join them for the community supper.

Songbird Symphony

What a beautiful month June has become, since the deluge finally departed. The urban forest behind my house on Bennett Street has become a leafy green haven for dozens of birds, whose songs fill the air morning and night. The woods of Bridgton are full of colorful songbirds, and many of my fellow birders have taken gorgeous pictures this spring.

I never tire of spying a bright red scarlet tanager, orange oriole or iridescent blue indigo bunting. Some of our birds are so colorful they look like they should live in the jungle, and some of them do!

They fly thousands of miles from their winter homes down south to spend the summer here, like many human “snowbirds” you know. To think of these tiny gems winging their way north to their breeding grounds makes me humbled and amazed, and happy to keep my feeders full of tasty treats for them. Put out some peanut butter cakes, black oil sunflower seeds and orange halves and prepare to be amazed by the beautiful birds hiding in plain sight in the woods of Bridgton.

Welcome to the discussion.