Monday, October 24, 2016

A Follow-up to the Brown Bag Lunch Discussion on Clean Elections

by Nancy Davis

The recent Brown Bag Lunch discussion centered around public financing of election campaigns, a.k.a “clean elections.” After much thoughtful discussion of the topic, facilitator Brendon Bass introduced an equally compelling discussion on the topic of rank choice voting, which is referendum question # 5 on November 8. Brendon has suggested the following internet links on these 2 topics: Ranked Choice Voting:; Maine Citizens for Clean Elections (MCCE):

If you’d like to dig deeper on this critical election, you may read unbiased information on many national and state candidates by consulting Project Vote Smart ( In addition to critical presidential and legislative decisions, there are some important referendum questions on the ballot. For more on these six issues:

Participants in the Brown Bag Lunch were inspired to continue the discussion. Whether or not that happens, the next Brown Bag discussion will be on Wednesday, November 16, on the topic of “American Political Society.” What hope is there for our American society? How can we be agents of change in the civil discourse that surrounds our political environment? The discussion will be strictly non-partisan and will reference the frustration many of us feel at the tenor of dialogue and resulting dysfunction of our political system. But only briefly, as the main focus will be on moving into positive action each of us can take. More information to follow. As always, please contact Nancy Davis if you plan to attend (now is not too early), so we have enough seating (; 381-1110). Please remember to RSVP; it is very helpful to us!

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dementia Conversations: Breaking the Ice with Empathy and Finesse

by Mary Haberman
On October 7, 2016, Western Mountains Senior College’s To Your Health offered the third in its series on dementia.  Open to the public and held at the West Parish Congregational Church, the program’s presenter was Mark Pechenik, Director of Community Outreach and Engagement for the Maine Alzheimer’s Association.

Sensitive Issues addressed:
  1. When is it time to stop driving? (Everyone’s fear)
  2. The need to see a physician for a firm diagnosis.
  3. Reviewing and perhaps relinquishing control of financial and legal matters.

Strategies and Approaches:
Pechenik focused his presentation on methods used to overcome the most common hurdles faced by caregivers.  He prefaced these suggestions with the caution that, first and foremost, planning - detailed planning - should be worked on sooner rather than later.  “Don’t wait for a crisis. Have the conversation early and involve family whenever possible.  Be specific, honest, and patient.”

Listen closely and respond:
Remember that loss of independence, isolation, and not wanting to burden family are early-stage worries.  Appeal to the patient’s sense of responsibility to family and community when suggesting the need for often drastic changes.

Don’t become an adversary.  Go with the flow.  Keep notes and be specific. Reach out to family, friends, community and utilize the many dementia-related resources available.

Pechenik ended his presentation with a description of many initiatives taking place in Maine, and his Association’s hope for a cure by 2025.  He added that Alzheimer's and all dementias must be “brought out of the shadows.

The Western Mountain Senior College To Your Health presentations are a community service offered in collaboration with the Bethel Family Health Center, MSAD#44/Continuing Education and the Maine Alzheimer’s Association.

Sandra Seaver, Carlie Casey, Charleen Chase, Mark Pechenik, speaker, Carol Bailey, Andrea Bennett.  photo: Judy Whitman

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Painting With Words

Western Mountains Senior College's own Ruth Bebko is a newly-published author! Painting With Words is a lovely collection of poetic pieces about nature, travel, dogs and home; some are limericks, some serious, many are poignant. If you'd like to check out Ruth's book there's a copy in the Bethel Library. Meanwhile, here's a taste!

Captain Sicily’s Britches 

Bulletproof and olive green,
finest wool I ever have seen.
“Army Issue” sewn inside.
Worn with valor and great pride
            by a Captain Sicily,
native son of Italy.

Why don’t they show signs of blood or tear
(signatures of combat wear)?
Perhaps they’d been cast
             as battle lines passed - 
by the bed of some maid
on whose bosom he laid.
Or could they’ve been new? 
Or just dropped in the loo?

They sure showed up strange
in the Clothing Exchange.
How’d they make it to Bethel?
There’s no way to tell –
             but they’ve ended up snug
             in my new braided rug.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

From Dump to High Tech - a Tour of the Lewiston Recycling Facility

A group from Western Mountains Senior College - Peter Gartner, Mary-Ellen Gartner, Jim Rector, Kay Larson, RoseMary McLean and Jim McLean - toured the Lewiston Recycling Facility on September 19. It was an informative, interesting trip -- the facility can process 22 tons of waste per hour. For those who could not make the trip because of the date change, stay tuned.  There may be a repeat open house in the near future.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Sunday, September 25, 2016

SeniorsPlus to Offer Individual Counseling on Medicare Choices

SeniorsPlus, Oxford County's agency on aging, is offering one-on-one counseling sessions on Medicare choices during Medicare's fall open enrollment period. Appointments will be available at Telstar High School between noon and 5:00 pm on four Tuesday afternoons - October 18, November 1, 15 and 29. The one-hour session is free, but you must make an appointment in advance with SeniorsPlus - walk-ins are not accepted. Call 800-427-1241 and tell them you are making an appointment for the Bethel site. If none of these times are convenient for you, you can make an appointment to meet with a counselor at the SeniorsPlus office in Lewiston. 

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Tech for Seniors Program Resumes

The Bethel Library will once again offer two Tech for Seniors programs this fall. Each session includes four classes and is free of charge. Classes are on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons– from 4:00-5:00 at the library. Dates for the first session are October 19, 20, 26, and 27; dates for the second session are November 9, 10, 16, and 17. To sign up, visit the front desk of the library or call 824-2520.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

October Events

Thursday, October 6
To Your Health: Dementia Conversations
Mark Pechenik, Director of Community Outreach and Engagement for the Maine Alzheimer's Association presents a program offering helpful tips to assist families with difficult conversations related to Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Free and open to the public. FMI: Rosabelle Tifft (824 -2053).
Thursday, October 6; 4:30-6:00 pm; West Parish Congregational Church, Bethel

Wednesday, October 12
Down Home Maine: Cultivating Community
Sarah Marshall tells the story of her journey from working with Americorps to her present day work with the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project and Cultivating Community. Cultivating Community, founded in 2001, creates greater access to healthy, local foods, and models, teaches, and advocates for ecological food production. Free and open to the public.
Wednesday, October 12; 4:30-6:30 pm; McLaughlin Auditorium, Gould Academy

Tuesday, October 18
Brown Bag Lunch Discussion: Clean Elections
What do you believe is bogging down Congress? How and why have we become so polarized? Is this also true in Maine? How can we make our government more responsive to us, the citizens? Brendon Bass facilitates a discussion about Maine’s efforts to strengthen publicly financed elections. Please RSVP to:, 381-1110.
Tuesday, October 18; 12:15-1:30 pm; Bethel Inn Library

Thursday, October 20
Introduction to Basic Estate Planning
Join Maine attorney Martha McLean for an explanation and discussion of how assets pass at death, trusts, wills, powers of attorney for finances and healthcare, Mainecare, what steps individuals can take to protect their assets, and more. Questions encouraged. Free and open to the public.
Thursday, October 20; 4:00-5:30; THS rm. 133

Sunday, October 23
Concert: One Today and Other Works
Richard Blanco’s poem One Today, written for the 2013 inauguration of Barak Obama, has been set to music for chorus and strings by Tom Davis. The work, along with pieces by George Gershwin, James Taylor and other American writers, will be presented in concert at the Gem Theater in Bethel. The author, Richard Blanco, will join the festivities! Free and open to the public; donations gratefully accepted.
Sunday, October 23; 3:00-4:30 pm; GEM Theater, Bethel

The following events are not sponsored by Western Mountains Senior College, but may be of interest to our members.

Monday, October 3
Community Book Discussion of When We Were the Kennedys
A discussion of Mexico, Maine native Monica Wood's memoir of growing up in a mid-20th-century Maine mill town. Free and open to the adult public, as adult beverages will be served.
Monday, October 3; 7:00 pm; Ordway Hall, Gould Academy

Tuesday, October 4
Monica Wood Reading and Reception
Award-winning Maine author Monica Wood will read from and discuss her most recent novel, The One-In-a-Million Boy. A reception and book-signing will follow in the IDEAS Center, Hanscom Hall. Free and open to the public.
Tuesday, October 4; 7:00 pm; Bingham Auditorium, Gould Academy

Wednesday, October 5
Mahoosuc Land Trust "Into the Woods" series: New England Fall Colors

Discover the hidden secrets for why this annual event occurs and what makes the broad-leaf forests of New England especially appealing. Join us with our featured speaker Paul Motts, a recently retired National Park Service Naturalist. FMI:
Wednesday, October 5; 7:00 pm; McLaughlin Auditorium, Gould Academy

Friday, October 7
Aging Well Living Well Expo

This year's keynote speakers are longtime WCSH-TV weatherman Kevin Mannix and his wife Linda Rota. Workshops cover a range of topics including finance, health, exercise, cooking, crafts, and travel. Tickets $25 pp include breakfast, lunch, keynote speaker and entrance to workshops. FMI: 1-800-427-1241 or 
Friday, October 7; 8:30 am - 4:00 pm; Summit Hotel, Sunday River

Saturday, October 8
Introductory Workshop on the Philosophy of the "Medicine Wheel"

Presented by Native American Consultant Sister Bernadette Gautreau, who has 50 years of experience among the Cree of the Little Red River Nation in Northern Alberta, Canada. Free and open to the public, optional donation. FMI: 824-2027.
Saturday, October 8; 10:00 am - 3:00 pm; Bethel United Methodist Church

Wednesday, October 26
Community Supper
Free community supper the last Wednesday of the month. All are welcome. 
Wednesday, October 26; 4:30 - 6:00 pm; Bethel Alliance Church, 251 Walkers Mills Road, Bethel

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Monday, September 12, 2016

Be a friendly persuader...

by Eunice Ruby

Do you have a friend who doesn't know about our very own Western Mountains Senior College--or needs a gentle push to take a course?  Talk to them!  Share their email and mailing addresses with us so we make sure they have the new brochure!  Bring them to one of your classes as a guest.  Encourage them to take a one-day class such as Isn't It Just a Dirty Old Mill Town? (a walking tour of  Rumford) or Medical Grand Rounds.  

Some courses are still open:  Drawing and Painting, Senior College Players, Making Your Personality Work For You, Digital Devices Part 2 and Creative Writing.  

(Guests are welcome at extended classes.  Just alert Irene Kuchta at 201-788-8817 or
Thank you!  We look forward to making new friends!

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at


Photos from the Ancestral Androscoggin Esker Field Trip

Who knew that visiting local gravel pits could be so interesting? 25,000 years ago, when the glacier covered where we live, melt-water flowed into crevasses and created a raging river flowing through a tunnel in the ice. The tunnel was partially filled with rock debris that washed in, and the river tumbled it along, turning it into sand and gravel. When the glacier retreated the sand and gravel were left behind, forming an esker. Here are a few photos from Saturday's field trip along the Ancestral Androscoggin Esker with Bob Elliott.

The group. We began the trip on Route 5 along the Ellis River north of Rumford Point, about a mile north of Route 2. You can see the mix of sand and rock in the background, just as it was left behind by the glacier, then exposed by excavations to build roads and bridges, etc. Photo: Wendy Hutchins.

Layering in rings of the sand that filled the depression where an ice block melted, creating a kettle on the east edge of the esker. Because of the excavation, we now see the kettle-fill in cross-section.
Photo: Pat Stewart.

Little Davis Pond, a kettle pond across Route 5 from the gravel pit. Kettles formed where partially buried ice blocks melted to form a depression in the outwash. Kettles are more often found on the west side of glacial valleys than on the east side. The ice on the east melts faster because that side of the valley gets more of the sun’s heat during the day. Photo: Pat Stewart.

Going into the woods at the base of the esker to at least look up at it, about .4 mile north of Route 2. Photo: Pat Stewart.

Just off Route 232 at the south end of Milton Village, Bob showed us an unusual example of a section of the esker that contains a lot of finer sand. He explained how there were hurricane-force winds blowing off the glacier toward the oceans and the Great Plains, picking up and depositing the finer particles. Some of those finer particles ended up in the melt-water and thus in the esker. Photo: Pat Stewart.

Along the Whale's Back on Route 232 in Woodstock. Just right of center in the distance is the farm across the valley, at the top of the first hill along the Gore Rd., headed toward Locke Mills. Below that in the bottom of the pit is the bucket loader used to work the gravel pit. Photo: Wendy Hutchins.

A closer view showing the excavator and sorter in the Whale's Back gravel pit. Notice the pile of fine sand in front of the sorter. This is the sand that your town will use for treating roads next winter!  
Photo: Wendy Hutchins.

Last stop of the trip. Descending into “The Amphitheater” in Bryant Pond, a perfectly round kettle. Back in the early 1900s it was equipped with benches and a stage for high school graduations and concerts, etc. Photo: Pat Stewart.

For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at

Sunday, August 28, 2016

New WMSC Board Members to Be Elected at Annual Meeting

At the Annual Meeting and Potluck Supper on September 7 we will say thank you to retiring WMSC Board members Mary Haberman, Bonnie Marien and Norman Milliard, all who have served as officers and directors for the past six years. We will then elect four new members to the WMSC Board: Brendon Bass, Susan Herlihy, Peter Musso and Eunice Ruby. We asked each of them to write a few words of introduction. Here's what they have to say.

Brendon Bass

Jean and I first came to Bethel as co-pastors of the West Parish Congregational Church. The talented, loving people of this community and the beauty of this area also led us to retire here.

Senior College's offerings, and especially its fun and involved people, help me feel that there's still a lot to learn and great folks to learn with.

We like to travel, make and enjoy music, hike, and of course spend time with our families. Also, I am concerned to improve democratic governance, increase justice, and reduce global warming.

Susan Herlihy

Along with family, the mountains, rivers, skiing and community involvement make up my core. The Bethel/Newry area offers all of those, and the addition of WMSC some years ago certainly increased the vibrant volunteer opportunities as well as the learning and entertainment options. I'm glad to lend some energy to the organization.

Peter Musso

My first trip to Maine was a ski trip to Sunday River in 1983 with my partner Norman Milliard. I fell in love with the area, and in 1985 Norman and I purchased the house we are living in presently. We joined Senior College in 2009 when Norman retired from the Postal Service. We both felt the need to get more involved in the Bethel area and that Senior College would be a great opportunity for us. Besides skiing I enjoy kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, snow shoeing and cross country skiing, and I like to think of myself as an amateur artist.

Eunice Ruby

My husband and I came to Bethel three years ago after our son and daughter-in-law convinced us we would love it here. I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts and have lived in New York City, New Orleans, Memphis, Orlando, Houston and Minneapolis. I wasn't sure about living in a small town. Well...this girl has been totally surprised. The opportunities offered by the Senior College, the amazing people who teach the courses, the camaraderie and effort put forth by members of the organization almost put a spell on me. I feel like I've fallen from a steady, calm path toward old age into a hotbed of fun and ideas.

My background is editing, in book publishing and education, and co- ownership of a prime steak house. I love to read biography, and if I ever finish the great, ponderous Alexander Hamilton, other genres of literature as well. I've always been interested in politics; this election has spurred me to finally volunteer. If it's new, I love it; if it's a challenge, I'm on it. Of course, nothing beats having fun with my family.

Brendon Bass, Susan Herlihy, Eunice Ruby and Peter Musso
For more information about Western Mountains Senior College visit our website at