Thursday, December 12, 2013
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"I think I'm going to be able to keep them busy," Schroeder said with a grateful smile.
Ditto for Gerry Smith, 79, who once flew helicopters for the U.S. Marine Corps but now gets around with a strong assist from his cane. His wife, Anne, has prepared a handwritten punch list for the six kids headed their way: Paint top of barn door overhang, sweep garage, cut brush on bank, paint bulkhead doors
"My wife is very organized," said Smith with a chuckle. "I'm slightly inconvenienced physically and these things, I probably wouldn't be able to get to them. We're very pleased to have this happen."
In all, the high school seniors will visit seven homes throughout Dresden before heading back to school for an all-grades barbecue.
E.J. Prescott Inc., a waterworks distributor out of Gardiner, is putting on the massive cookout. Tools for the projects will be delivered to each work site by G&E Roofing of Augusta. T-shirts, water and logistical support come courtesy of the United Way of Kennebec Valley.
In other words, from where Hall-Dale High School Principal Mark Tinkham sits, it's as good a lesson about community-building as he can imagine. (The same community, it should be noted, that saw beyond its financial constraints and voted in a separate warrant to add K-12 foreign-language instruction to the district's overall school budget.)
"They give so much to us," said Tinkham. "It's important that we give something back."
Hall-Dale senior Taylor Lockhart, 17, admits he hasn't spent a lot of time thinking about property taxes. But as president of the local Key Club, he sees Monday's trip to Dresden as "an opportunity I don't think we've had in the past."
"The 'little things' aren't so little anymore," Lockhart replied. "Hearing that someone doesn't have heat isn't so little anymore. It makes me want to go out and make a difference. Now I get to see it first-hand."
One last thing about that property-tax increase that loomed over Dresden last spring: Selectman Johnston reports that thanks to municipal-budget adjustments and other tweaks that offset the increased school costs, the local mill rate remained flat after all.
Still, tax increase or no tax increase, you can't look at what has become of Lydia Leimbach's light-bulb moment without concluding that come Monday, the town of Dresden will be a little richer.
"I don't think it's our town alone -- I think it's many towns," said Johnston. "There are folks throughout Maine who could really benefit from something like this."
Not to mention their kids.
Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at: