Cheverus grad receives national Catholic award

PORTLAND — Kevin W. Cocannon, graduate of Cheverus High School Class of 1959, was named the 2012 recipient of the prestigious Catholic Charities USA “Keep the Dream Alive Award.”

In honor of the first Martin Luther King Jr. holiday 25 years ago, St. Anthony Church in Detroit, Mich. celebrated a Mass in which the  members of the parish bestowed the “Keep the Dream Alive Award” to a dozen individuals of diverse religious backgrounds, racial groups, genders and social classes in southeastern Michigan. The Keep the Dream Alive Mass and Award have since become a high profile event and are now celebrated throughout Catholic communities across the nation to recognize those who are keeping Dr. King’s dream alive.

Concannon currently serves as under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services (FNS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. FNS has principal responsibilities and funding authority for food and nutrition service, which feeds one in four Americans, and has led responsibilities for promoting healthful diet through the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

Prior to his term as Director of the Iowa DHS, Concannon served as Maine’s Department of Human Services Commissioner from February 1995 to January 2003.

A native of Portland, Concannon graduated from Cheverus High School and holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Francis Xavier University and a master’s of social work from St. Francis Xavier University and the Maritime School of Social Work. He and his wife, Eileen, have four sons, Timothy of Cape Elizabeth, Michael of Scarborough, Stephen of Boston, Mass. and John of Chicago, Ill.

Longfellow School receives grant for erosion control

PORTLAND — The Longfellow Elementary School in Portland recently received a $3,500 Berlin City Drive for Education Grant for a project to control erosion in its schoolyard.

According to Principal Dawn Carrigan, erosion from run-off water limits access to parts of the playground and the grant will help the school address the problem. The plan for the grant money calls for landscaping, building rain gardens and planting trees to prevent more erosion. The grant will also pay for creating a fairy garden on the school grounds.

The project began in the spring of 2011 when fifth grade students studied erosion and its effect on their playground as well as the city’s storm water system. They presented their findings to a panel of parent experts, including a landscape architect and two civil engineers who later volunteered their time and designed a plan to prevent erosion onto the school’s lower playground.

The School Grounds Greening Coalition is leading the effort to landscape the slope. Maine Landscape Solutions, owned by a Longfellow parent, donated the use of heavy equipment and labor, and the city has provided more than 200 feet of reclaimed granite curbing.

In addition to the Berlin City grant, the project has received $2,750 from the School Grounds Greening Coalition plus in-kind donations and labor from Portland Trails.

Longfellow will continue the project during the spring of 2012 by planting trees in the school yard funded by a $925 grant from Project Canopy. With the money they will plant three native trees to help with erosion control; the city of Portland will match the trees planted through Project Canopy.

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