Lorraine Monfils and the Ark Animal Shelter

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In this photo are Lorraine Monfils of Ark Animal Shelter, the guest of Rotarian Kathy Miskelly also in the photo on the right. Lorraine spoke about her efforts with the Ark and gave a history of the organization. The original building on the Old Woodstock Road unfortunately burned a few years ago. With a community bake sale effort every other weekend in front of Lorraine’s business on Main Street in Houlton called Hollywood Pet Salon and eighty thousand dollars in insurance funds, the new building is almost ready. This time it has 5 one hundred square foot cat rooms and an exterior area for the animals. Three thousand square feet of area provide the space the shelter needs on thirty-seven acres of ground. The only loan is on the purchase of the acreage. An nice donation in honor of the later Linda Severson of five thousand dollars and a couple of grants to purchase a computer and a washer and a dryer have rounded out the effort. Security cameras and motion detector lights are a must as well as an interior sensor for fire or intruders. Lorraine’s efforts are magnanimous. The shelter works with the Cleo Foundation to spay cats and the shelter keeps animals temporarily to place them in foster care.

Nate Bodenstab shares his work with Houlton Rotary Club

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In this photo are Rotarian Nate Bodenstab and President of Rotary Jane Torres. Nate shared his life path to Houlton and his work life with the club on February 1, 2016 at the luncheon meeting. Nate married Rotarian Paul Callnan’s daughter Sharon and they moved to Houlton about a year ago choosing to raise their three boys in Houlton.

Nate earned his undergraduate degree at George Fox University where he did a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics and a minor in Philosophy. Nate went on to earn his Masters and Doctorate in the field of Artificial Intelligence at Oregon Health and Science University. Nate interned with Google in Switzerland. He now works for a company named Nuance in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Nuance develops computer programs that work with voice recognition, self-driving cars, and other self-driving devices. Nate’s specialty is voice recognition and in eight languages going text to speech and vice versa. Nate works with a team of eight people around the world and on the west coast and east coast of the United States. Nuance has clients such as the Australian government, Air France, eTrade, Citibank, Best Buy and others. Nuance created Siri, Swipe, Spotify and Roku and is working on a Smart TV. Nate envisions an incubator space provided for people working in this industry needing a space to work from with excellent connectivity. Nate volunteers at the school teaching computer class and hopes for more education in this area. He helps to reinvent the relationship between people and technology.


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In this photo are Houlton Rotarians Jerry Wilson, Moose Karnes and Kathy Miskelly. Moose spoke to the luncheon meeting about the work of Back Pack For Kids. This is a nationwide program to feed children over the weekends when they are not at school. Twenty-one million American children qualify for this program since they are classified as hungry. These children often are only fed at school.Feeding America has a website which explains the history of this program. In the Houlton area the Houlton Methodist Church has led the fund raising for this at seventy thousand dollars in 5 years with Rotary contributing seventeen thousand dollars. Back Packs are filled on Fridays and loaded onto the school buses that have the children in the program and the bus drive oversees the distribution. Generally a school nurse identifies the child in need and an application is sent home with the child which will also report on any allergies. In Houlton around twenty-eight back packs are handed out each weekend. The local schools involved are Mill Pond School, ACAP, Houlton Southside School, and some 6th graders, now at the high school in Houlton.  Donations are welcome as it costs more each year to fill a bag. County Yankee donates to the cause as well as private contributors.

Kimberly Smith, Grant Writer Extraordinaire

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Kimberly Smith

In the photograph is Kimberly Smith who spoke to Houlton Rotary Club on January 11, 2016 during their luncheon meeting. Kim is a grant writer for the City of Presque Isle, Maine. She brought much knowledge to the group with her twenty years of experience. She holds a masters degree from Husson University in Business and has served as an adjunct instructor for Northern Maine Community College, Husson University’s Graduate Program and the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Kim shared her experience and her success rate of two out of seven applications. She will be leading a workshop on January 23, 2106 on Grant Writing at the Houlton Higher Education Center. This costs forty nine dollars and interested persons should sign up by January 20th. The workshop will run from nine in the morning until noon.

Hannah Jacobs speaks to Houlton Rotary Club

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IMG_20160104_120206In this photo left to right are Dana Delano, Rotarian and leader of the youth exchange program, Hannah Jacobs of Houlton High School and Jane Torres, President of the Houlton Rotary Club. The subject of Hannah’s talk was the Rotary Youth Exchange. This exchange program has been going on since 2003. Dana has been working on this since 2008. Each year  two or three high school students from the area are involved. All expenses are paid for the students in this summer opportunity to go to a county in Europe that is selected by the student. The families of these students are very much involved since the exchange occurs at each student’s home. The host family has the responsibility to share the culture of their country with their exchange student. Hannah chose Italy and she began her journey in Milan, visiting Cannes in France and experiencing Bastille Day. She also visited a vineyard and the World Expo. She stayed at her host Sophia’s grandmother’s castle in Turin. Hannah noted two major differences in her experience from her home in Maine were walking everywhere and eating late, around eight thirty in the evening. Hannah shared slides of her trip and she thanked Houlton Rotary club for the opportunity. The club met the new exchange students who will be going to Switzerland and France. This exchange experience adds to the maturity of the students involved in the process.


Franki White shares her Rotaract Experiences with Houlton Rotary Club

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IMG_20151228_115931In this photo are Scott White, Houlton Rotarian with his daughter Franki White. At the December 28, 2015 meeting Franki shared her Rotaract experiences of which she was a member while she attended the University of Maine in Orono. Rotaract basically prepares students between the ages of 17 and 30 to become members of the Service Above Self community. Franki learned during high school about such service when she traveled with her father and other Rotarians to the Dominican Republic to install water filters for the impoverished residents. She enjoyed her one on one relationships with the youth that she met there. Franki showed great poise and compassion and impressed the club with her maturity and sense of community.


December 14, 2015 Rotary meeting with other County Rotarians

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In this photo from left to right are Ginny Joles from Presque Isle Rotary Club, and she is District Governor Elect for Rotary District 7810, Carl Young, President of Fort Fairfield Rotary Club, Josefina Lopez-Aroagon, Fort Fairfield Rotarian, Matthew Nightingale, Vice-president of the Houlton Rotary Club, Gina LeBlanc-Eggert, President Elect of the Presque Isle Rotary Club and Edward Wright of the Mars Hill Rotary Club.  An effort is being put forth to aid Guatemalans who live along the coast where sea levels are rising. The project is called GIVE 2017. GIVE stands for Guatemalan Infrastructure Improvement Venture. The goals are to write a grant, assess the needs and size of the volunteer crew and raise the necessary funds with help from a local Rotary Club in Guatemala and a grant from Rotary International. The effort would install eco toilets, stoves and water filters to three villages. Awareness was raised for the Houlton Rotary Club by the visiting group and collaborative efforts are welcomed.

Chief of Houlton Police Department Speaks to Houlton Rotary Club

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IMG_20151116_115835In this photo are Chief Joe McKenna, a Houlton Rotarian with Houlton Rotary President Jane Torres. Joe spoke to the club at the November 16th, 2015 meeting about his work at the Houlton Police Department. Joe has been busy upgrading the department with a new look and attitude. His concept is that law enforcement officials are public servants and he is working on a more visible presence. New uniforms and caps and updated logo patches are in order. The police cars have a new look with a silver color over the old white. Hopefully, officers will soon have laptop computers in their vehicles so that when they are in the car on duty they can do their reports rather than spending that time in the office. Parking a cruiser in front of a “meth” house discourages business to an otherwise very profitable business. The cars have new radios allowing officers to contact each other and to be there for backup. Joe is working with other law enforcement agencies and planning on current training to happen closer to home. Joe welcomes residents to call the station with any concern. He says such interaction strengthens the HPD. Joe is working on cooperation with local clergy to assist with crisis situations. Another emphasis is the prevention of heroin importation and the HPD is on top of this before it becomes a problem. Joe welcomed questions from the group and was well received for his informational talk.


Polar Bear Capital of the World and the Aurora Borealis

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IMG_20151102_115545In this photo are Bob Ellis, Rotarian and guest speaker with Jane Torres, President of the Houlton Rotary Club.

Bob shared his personal photographs of the Aurora Borealis that he took a year ago when he traveled to the Polar Bear Capital of the World in Churchill, Manitoba. Bob set his incredible slide show to music. He talked about his experience with the extreme weather conditions and how to care for his photo equipment. Keeping the cameras and batteries warm and condensation free was a challenge. He achieved great photos inspite of this. Bob presented this at the November 2, 2015 meeting.


Big Rock Ski Area presented to Houlton Rotary Club

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Here in this photo are Bill Getman, director of Big Rock Ski Area, Houlton Rotary President Jane Torres and Jeff Clockidile of the Big Rock Ski Area rental program. Bill addressed the September 14, 2015 Houlton Rotary Club meeting with news of what is going on at Big Rock. Sharing a bit of history Bill referred to the transition from Maine Winter Sports to a community run ski area.  In the year 2000 Maine Winter Sports purchased the property from the Pearce family and ran it until 2013 when the Libra Foundation who controlled the program released the ski area and officially closed it. Maine Winter Sports had done many upgrades to the ski area with new chair lifts, building improvements, parking lot improvements, a new rental shop. They took a quarter million dollar loss. During the fall of 2013 a fund raising effort raised two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to keep Big Rock running with a free lease in place. Bill became the manager in 2012 taking over from Travis Kearney. The first year saw a fifty thousand dollar loss and the second year saw a twelve thousand dollar loss so steps have been taken to improve funding and lift prices increased as well as season passes. Bill has implemented fund raising events for the summer and fall seasons to help pay for a much needed groomer that was purchased this past year. The Top Mountain Challenge brought two hundred entries at sixty dollars each on August 15, 2015. Bill expects five hundred entries next summer.  And the area residents should look forward to Aroostook Brew Fest on October 17, 2015 at the mountain where fifteen brewers will offer forty-five taps from noon to five o’clock. Sponsorships are also available to fund the five dollar ski nights at a cost of one thousand dollars to the sponsor. Advertisement is available on chair lifts and chair towers. The ski area serves forty local schools and 2000 students. The Maine High School State Meet takes place each year at Big Rock drawing bus loads of competitors from around the state. On mountains ski schools and other programs such as races are very successful. For a life long sport during our long northern Maine winters, Big Rock is the place to support.

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