Caribou city councilors honor volunteers, choral students and limerick writers
CARIBOU, Maine — Members of the Caribou City Council recently honored numerous volunteers for their service to the city as well as high school choral students and writers who have won state and local competitions.
During their Monday, April 8, meeting, councilors presented nine individuals and organizations with awards from the Spirit of America Foundation, a 501C3 nonprofit established in Augusta in 1990 to “commend community service and promote volunteerism.”
Councilors presented Spirit of American certificates to Barbara Aiken, Bill Flagg, Roger Felix, Christina Kane-Gibson, Connie Michaud, Valerie Waldemarson, Shawn Pelletier, Channel X Radio and the Caribou Rotary Club.
Councilor Joan Theriault said that Aiken is a longtime volunteer of the Caribou Ecumenical Food Pantry, contributes home-baked food to the Cary Medical Center Ladies Auxiliary and sews pillows that the auxiliary gives to patients in recovery. She also is a leading organizer of the annual gingerbread decorating event at the Caribou Wellness and Recreation Center.
“Barbara and her band of volunteers assemble 250 houses for children to decorate. It takes nearly a week to build the houses and portion out the candy. The tradition has continued for more than 20 years,” Theriault said.
Theriault continued by honoring Bill Flagg, director of community relations and development at Cary Medical Center, and the Caribou Rotary Club. Flagg has played a role in having the AARP of Maine certify Caribou as an age friendly community and in establishing Recovery Aroostook. He also advocates for Maine veterans and helped raise funds to open a women’s sober house in Caribou. The Rotary Club has supported and raised funds for organizations such as the Bread of Life Soup Kitchen, Caribou Performing Arts Center, the high school ski program and the veteran’s memorial.
The council also honored Caribou city employees Christina Kane-Gibson and Connie Michaud. Kane-Gibson is the marketing and events coordinator and has helped support events such as Caribou Daze, the Caribou Marathon, Halloween Festival and Gingerbread Festival and in 2018 helped create the downtown alliance group to revitalize the downtown business area. Michaud recently retired after 33 years serving the city office, first as the motor vehicle officer, then as assistant clerk.
“Working to make Caribou a better place is not just Christina’s job, but her passion,” Theriault said. About Michaud, she stated, “Truthfully, she is genuine, insightful and one of the nicest and kindest individuals in Caribou.”
Other honorees included: Channel X Radio — founded by the late Dennis Curley 33 years ago — for delivering “locally owned and operated” services to the community; Roger Felix, business and community liaison at Loring Job Corps, for his volunteerism with the Caribou VFW and Maine Veterans Cemetery; and Shawn Pelletier, a member of Caribou Senior Living, LLC., and founder of Brian’s Ride, a fund created in memory of Brian Caldwell, formerly of Limestone, who passed away from cancer in 2014 at age 53.
Waldemarson, adviser for Caribou High School’s Jobs for Maine Graduates and National Honor Society, was presented an award for her recruitment of student volunteers for numerous local events such as the Caribou Marathon, Arts & Crafts Fair, Santa’s Workshop, Holiday Shoppe for Children, and Halloween at the Caribou Wellness and Recreation Center. She and students have donated to local food pantries, created a Community Cupboard project, raised funds to send local children to camp, and assisted with business forums and job fairs.
“Dr. Waldemarson continuously brings positive recognition to the City of Caribou, Caribou High School and RSU 39 and was named Bangor Metro’s 2018 Person of the Year and Maine Jump$tart Coalition’s 2018-19 Financial Educator of the Year,” Theriault said. “She is a civic leader and a true mentor to the students in her care.”
Councilors later recognized the students of the Caribou High School Show Choir and Jazz Choir for their recent performances at the Maine State Vocal Jazz Festival held March 30 at Lawrence High School in Fairfield. Fifty-two students in the show choir, directed by Vicki King and Amy Hunter, performed songs from the Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hanson.”
Senior Austin LaPlante received an outstanding musicianship award for his solo performance, and the jazz choir students, directed by King and Vaughan McLaughlin, took home a bronze award in their category.
“It was an amazing opportunity to see what other school choirs in Maine are doing,” LaPlante said, about the competition. “You can’t help but learn from every one of them.”
Hope Shafer, director of the Caribou Public Library, was on hand to honor winners of the library’s 2nd annual limerick contest held on March 19. The event celebrated Irish music and poetry and featured 16 participants from age 5 to adult. Roy Cyr won the elementary level while Connor Albers won the 6th to 12th grade category and Larry Bubar was the adult winner.
Later on Monday evening, councilors approved the library using a $9,771 donation from the estate of Phillip Turner to establish the Phillip Turner Library Memorial Fund. That fund will be used to buy books, pay for programming, and purchase related materials. Turner, who passed away in 2018, was a local author who wrote many historical novels and plays.