St. John Valley

St. John Valley news 2020 year in review (Part 1)

Editor’s Note: The following is the first of two articles highlighting some of 2020’s most important and interesting news stories. This article highlights events from January through June. The next installment will be published Jan. 6.

January

Fort Kent officials created a new downtown access point for snowmobiles when a landowner suddenly denied access to a vacant lot where snowmobilers normally crossed after riding along the Fort Kent levee next to the St. John River.

Madawaska town manager Gary Picard rescued a nursing student who became trapped in her car after it went off the road in a winter crash. 

A group of Fort Kent residents filed a complaint in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou asking a judge to put a temporary stop to the Valley Unified school consolidation process. 

Two St. John Valley elementary school students were chosen to compete in the annual WinterKids Winter Games program.

Town managers who served Fort Kent during the last 50 years are from left: Alain Ouellette, Claude Dumond, Suzie Paradis and Donald Guimond. (Jessica Potila)

February

A dedicated town manager who served the St. John Valley for 60 years died. Those who worked alongside and learned from Claude Dumond remembered him as a hard worker devoted to doing his best for his community.

The St. Agatha Fire Department purchased a new set of battery-operated Jaws of Life and a vehicle stabilization kit thanks to a $30,000 grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation.

The Fort Kent Town Council sought information from the Maine commissioner of education about how to withdraw from SAD 27 over concerns about the Valley Unified school regionalization project. 

March

Valley Unified schools closed their doors to in-class learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Valley Unified school employees prepared and delivered meals to more than 1,500 children after schools shut their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fort Kent Community High School students prepared to leave for an exchange trip to France found the trip canceled amid fears about coronavirus. 

 

University of Maine at Fort Kent selected Dr. Deborah Hedeen as president and provost following the retirement of John Short. 

April

A nurse at New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Portland sent her son to live with his grandparents in the St. John Valley temporarily to protect him from possible exposure to COVID-19 that she feared could be transmitted to him due to her job. 

Some innovative Madawaska volunteers helped local workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic feel a little safer with face mask holders and face shields produced on 3D printers.

Father of the bride, Jesse Waltman and his daughter Megan Daigle gaze off in the distance as they take part in the father-daughter dance at her wedding in 2018. (Morgan Mitchell | SJVT)

The COVID-19 pandemic proved challenging for those who planned to get married in 2020 and the businesses who serve them. 

May

University of Maine at Fort Kent officials canceled all in-person University of Maine campus commencements due to COVID-19 and instead held a special video commencement ceremony broadcast online.

The Maine Department of Education named Fort Kent Community High School teacher Jocelyn Saucier the Aroostook County Teacher of the Year.

A woman in her 80s was the first Aroostook County resident to die from COVID-19, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Loved ones celebrated the 90th birthday of a Madawaska woman with a socially distant parade to keep her safe from COVID-19. 

About 50 demonstrators walked from the Fort Kent Public Library to the police station carrying signs promoting racial equality and the need for justice in the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (Jessica Potila | St. John Valley Times)

June

Community members gathered in Fort Kent to honor the memory of George Floyd and other black men who have been killed by police officers, and to promote equality and unity among the races

Veteran memorial sites in Fort Kent got a good cleaning thanks to the efforts of local volunteers. 

A headstrong sheep refused for a time to stay corralled in St. David. While it was on its adventures, it befriended a pony and a horse, which led to its capture.

This lost sheep has proved to be an elusive escape artist according to multiple sources including the police. (Courtesy of Angie Corriveau)

 

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