The Maine Fire Service Institute has been awarded a federal grant to purchase a new fire and safety training trailer and other equipment that will be used to train firefighters from across Maine in advanced firefighting techniques.

The entrance to the Southern Maine Community College campus in South Portland. John Ewing

The institute has received a $228,000 Assistance to Firefighters Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The funds will be used to purchase a new Air Management Mobile Trailer Prop, ventilation saws and tools, and search-and-rescue mannequins that can be used in fire training programs.

“This grant provides critically needed resources for vital training that will enhance the safety of the public and our emergency responders,” said Jim Graves, director of the Maine Fire Service Institute. “We are committed to having the latest equipment available to help in the advancement of Maine’s firefighting professionals.”

The Maine Fire Service Institute is a department of Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) and provides training and education services to Maine’s fire agencies and firefighters. It is located at SMCC’s Midcoast Campus in Brunswick.

The Air Management Trailer Prop is a trailer that contains a maze of compartments where firefighters are trained in the use of self-contained breathing apparatus and become proficient with them while the trailer is filled with training smoke. It allows firefighters to become more comfortable with the use of their breathing apparatus with limited space to maneuver.

Maine Fire Service Institute expects to have the new trailer delivered sometime next year.

SMCC’s Late Start classes allow people to begin fall studies four weeks into semester

Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) is offering Late Start classes starting at the end of September in an effort to support individuals whose lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic or had other commitments at the start of the fall semester.

Stewart P. Morrill American Legion Post 35 in South Portland recently removed the large placard designating the small park next to the South Portland Post Office as Legion Square. Although no longer a square, but a traffic circle, it is still called Legion Square. The name comes from the fact the less than 500 feet away was the location of the first South Portland Legion meeting place. The building still stands, remodeled into a group home, on a quiet side street. The square has changed several times since the American Legion left in the 1930s to take up residence in the “Moose Home” on Broadway just a few blocks around the corner. The sign was repainted and stenciled by Joe Tufts, a Post member, who owns a sign business at the end of Broadway in what used to be South Portland Shipyard dry docks. He has been our “unofficial” sign maker for the Post and his handy-work can be seen on the upgraded Post sign on the front lawn. Courtesy photo

Late Start courses begin on Sept. 28, four weeks later than this year’s fall semester start date. The program aims to help people who want to attend SMCC, but couldn’t start on Aug. 31 due to uncertainties of work, child-care and school openings brought on by the coronavirus. It also helps assist students who are experiencing changes in their current educational environment.

“We are offering Late Start classes to serve the needs of our students, families and community during these very different times,” said SMCC President Joe Cassidy. “Our goal is to be affordable and flexible, and Late Start is our way of offering one more option for people who are juggling many schedules.”

In all, the college will offer 16 Late Start classes including Macroeconomics; United States History Before 1877; Introduction to Psychology; Introduction to Sociology; Introduction to Health Sciences; Medical Terminology; Medical Ethics and Law; Intro to Healthcare Professions; Quantitative Reasoning; College Algebra; English Composition; Oral Communications; and Introduction to Literature.

Fifteen of the 16 classes will be asynchronous, meaning students will not attend a live class online, but rather interact with instructors and other students through recorded presentations, discussion boards, group projects, email, cloud documents and other means. The classes provide flexibility that allows students to balance family, work, and school in a way that works for their schedules.

One class will be held online using the Zoom video conferencing platform at scheduled times on designated days.

Those who are interested in simply taking a class can search for Late Start courses online and register by visiting www.smccME.edu/latestart. Those who want to take these courses as part of a degree program will first need to apply and be accepted to the College, and can do so by visiting www.smccME.edu/apply.

First Congregational public dinner planned for Sept. 23

First Congregational Church of Scarborough will offer its fourth annual public dinner catered by Moe’s Original Bar-B-Q on Wednesday, Sept. 23, from 5 to 6 p.m. The church is located at 167 Black Point Road in Scarborough.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s event will be held on an all take-out format. There will not be any inside dining.

Vehicles will be directed inside the church parking lot. Payment will be made on a cash-only basis. Cost will be $10 for all meals, a price reduction since no desserts or beverages will be offered. Meals will be handed to an occupant (please wear a mask) of the vehicle, starting at 5 p.m.

Meals will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis until food runs out. The meal will include pulled pork, chicken, baked beans, cornbread, potato salad, and cucumber/tomato salad.

The meals will all be the same and boxed by church members, who will wear masks, shields, gloves, maintain distance, use sanitizer and adhere to all COVID-19 precautions.

The dinner is a fundraiser sponsored by the church’s Men’s Fellowship.

Day One, SMART Child & Family Services announce merger

Day One and SMART Child & Family Services announced their intent to merge the two behavioral health organizations on Oct. 1. The combined organization will continue operations as Day One and will capitalize on a combined legacy of exceptional services to Maine people struggling from substance use and mental health challenges, with an increased focus on family-based care. The merger is pending required regulatory approvals and a successful merger process.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened the stress placed on Maine families – exacerbating mental and substance use disorders while isolating those struggling from many of the services that could help them most,” said Zander Abbott, chair of the Day One Board of Directors, in a written statement. “Bringing together these two agencies creates a continuum of care to better meet the increasingly complex needs of our friends and neighbors in distress so they and our communities can thrive.”

Headquartered in South Portland, Day One was founded in 1973 and currently offers residential substance use treatment for teens at locations in New Gloucester and Hinckley, case management for children and adults, and outpatient counseling for youth, adults and families across the state in schools, correctional facilities and at the Preble Street Teen Center.

SMART Child & Family Services was created in 1995 as a treatment foster care agency and has since grown to include outpatient mental health counseling, home and community-based treatment, case management for children and adults, substance use services including medication assisted treatment, and outpatient psychiatry and medication management. SMART Child & Family Services has long been headquartered at the intersection of Route 302 and Tandberg Trail in Windham and the new organization will continue to serve clients from the Lakes Region there.

Missy Cormier Dunham, Day One’s chief clinical officer, noted that the two agencies have been working closely together – especially during the pandemic – to strengthen the system of family-based care, including through telehealth services.

“As we increasingly see these diseases and their interrelated trauma impacting multiple generations of the same family, it’s clear we need to take a more family-focused approach to treatment services,” Dunham said in an email. “By bringing together the staff expertise, evidence-based practice and passion that exists within these two organizations, we can be more effective in breaking this deeply destructive cycle and improving the health and productivity of Maine and its citizens.”

“Day One has an incredible reputation of excellence in the community and among clinicians and shares SMART Child & Family Services’ commitment and compassion for this important and difficult work,” said Irena Zaburanna, chair of SMART Child & Family Services’ board of directors in an email. “It has been clear from our very first conversation that these two organizations are wonderful complements for one another. Formalizing our partnership is a real win for Maine families searching for one place to meet their inter-generational needs.”

For more information about Day One, visit www.day-one.org.

Rotary Club assists K9s on the Front Line

The South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Rotary Club, with an emphasis on helping Maine’s veterans, has provided assistance to K-9s on the Front Line by securing a dog for a veteran.

The local nonprofit program works to save Maine warriors and restore hope. The effort purchases a suitable shelter dog and trains it professionally to match the needs of a veteran with combat-related PTSD and other issues.

According to the organization, PTSD affects 1 in 5 combat veterans and contributes to more than 22 suicides per day in the U.S.

Kirby, a veteran’s helper. Courtesy photo

The specially trained dogs can save a life by neutralizing negative emotions and replacing the emotions with a sense of security. They can perform specific tasks to intercept flashbacks, injurious behavior, blunting nightmares, retrieving objects, and guiding the veteran in stressful situations. They also help veterans become emotionally available to their families and friends again.

The veteran who now owns the “Rotary dog” said, “Kirby is my everything. He’s my lifeline and my absolute best friend. He’s the most loyal dog I’ve ever had. When I’m down or depressed, Kirby comes to me and licks my face and will not leave my side – he understands me, and I understand him. I feel so calm when I’m out in public with him.

“I was taking four medications a day, morning and night and I am already down to three! My goal is to not need them at all when I leave the house and I believe I will get there. I now strongly recommend getting a service dog to any combat veteran who’s struggling. I had seen stories about service dogs before, but I never knew how much of a difference it would make – he is so much more than a dog. The people at K-9s on The Front Line are the salt of the earth and will always be family to me. Anyone who supports this organization should know that they are saving veterans’ lives. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making it possible for Kirby to come into my life.”

For a video of Kirby and the K9s on the Front Line, visit  https://youtu.be/tlmVMs2rtXc.

To assist K-9s on the Front Line directly, contact co-founder Linda Murray at 855-597-6835 or [email protected] The cost to obtain and train one dog with one veteran is about $3,500, a cost which can be shared.

The South Portland-Cape Elizabeth Rotary Club’s donations to assist Maine veterans the past seven years has exceeded $40,000.

“We feel privileged to be partnered with organizations like this one in our effort to help Maine’s veterans. This is a significant need, and these men and women who have served our country deserve all the help we can offer,” said Mike Geneseo, president of the Rotary Club of South Portland/Cape Elizabeth.

For more information, or to donate to veterans programs through the Rotary Club, contact Geneseo at [email protected] or 207-332-8198.