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Originally published in Castine Patriot, September 27, 2012
Maine Maritime Academy helps promote local merchants

by Sharon Bray

At their “town-gown” meeting September 19, municipal and Maine Maritime Academy officers cheered a project to encourage visitors to support local businesses.

Paul Mercer, MMA alumni office director, handed out samples of a discount card that will be in greeting packets for homecoming and again for family weekend.

Over the September 28-30 and October 5-7 weekends, 12 Castine businesses will offer discounts and enticements ranging from ice cream to dinner desserts.

Economic Development Director Susan Walsh said she hopes even more than those listed will join the cooperative effort. So far, she has recruited Bah’s Bakehouse, Compass Rose Bookstore, Danny Murphy’s, Dennett’s, Four Flags, Lucky Hill, Sara Sara’s, T&C Grocery, The 19th Hole, The Breeze, The Pentagoet and The Variety.

In a brief special meeting called after the town-gown, Castine selectmen approved Mercer’s request to close part of Pleasant Street during homecoming activities as has been done for the past several years.

During the town-gown meeting, selectmen raised concerns about the use of fireworks in town.

MMA President Bill Brennan said the school does not allow students to possess fireworks on academy property.

Some Castine residents, according to Selectman Peter Vogell, have given permission for use of fireworks on private property.

MMA Vice President Jeff Loustaunau said the father of a student owns the fireworks store in Ellsworth, and his truck has been seen in town.

The town does not allow fireworks on any municipal property but has no other regulations. Finance Officer Karen Motycka said anyone who thinks fireworks are being used illegally should contact the Hancock County Sheriff’s office.

“I know from personal experience,” said Brennan, “it is not only MMA students using fireworks in town.”

He also noted that use of fireworks on private property is not an MMA issue. When students rent from local residents, the matter is strictly private. He suggested the town contact any landlords about problems at specific locations.

Several people suggested more public education about details of the state’s relatively new fireworks law.

Selectmen Gus Basile and David Unger said they appreciate participation of MMA students in the work of the local conservation trust.

Unger also encouraged MMA attendance at and participation in an upcoming public hearing on referenda that will be on the November 6 ballot.

Motycka commented that students can register to vote in town, but she encourages them to get absentee ballots from home.

Once a person becomes a resident and registers to vote, Motycka and Town Clerk Susan Macomber said, the new voter must also change other residency-related items. Individuals are required to register any vehicles in the town where they vote, to change driver licenses and any other licenses to be consistent with voter registration.

Out of state students, however, would not qualify for in-state MMA tuition by changing their listed residence, according to Deidre Davis, dean of students.

The next town-gown meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday, October 17, at MMA. While Emerson Hall is undergoing renovations, all the meetings are at the academy with selectmen and Brennan alternating the job of chairing meetings.