Santa event flummoxed by COVID-19

The Breakfast with Santa at Mt. Olivet Masons scheduled for last Saturday was cancelled ahead of time because of the re-accelerating coronavirus. The guys — or I should say more respectfully, the Masons — conjured up wishful ways of going ahead with the annual event for kids, but realistically there was no other choice for health and safety’s sake. Already, eyes are on next year when we all hope the coronavirus and all its iterations will be history. Until then, the Masons of Mt. Olivet Masonic Lodge (all the guys) send warmest wishes for a happy holiday season and a good new year for everyone.

PreK – second grade basketball sign-ups

So, here’s the thing: basketball is always on the Rec Committee agenda for the very young people here to learn the game. And, yes, there will be basketball this winter for pre-kindergarten- to second grade. Sign-ups are happening on Tuesday, Dec. 14, from 5 – 7 p.m. at the Bryant Room of Gibbs Library. What’s different is the practices won’t be at Prescott School. In order to provide a safe environment and make it possible for children to be in school in person, the Prescott gym is set up for the school year with COVID-19 in mind. There are many small tables spread around with correct distancing and assigned seats. This arrangement is complicated and labor intensive, and does not lend itself to be to taken down and put back every week. So, the compromise is to find another venue for practices. Our kids will have after school practice one day a week. Practice will be either in Union or Warren. Day of week and which gym is used will be determined by John Leach, Warren Recreation and Youth Sports Director, in January. That information will be announced as soon as it’s settled. As in the past, Warren will host Saturday games. On behalf of the Washington Recreation Committee, Peg Hobbs enthusiastically thanks John Leach for his help and cooperation in getting this together so we can offer something this year. Again, final details about where and when practices will happen will be announced when school re-opens Jan. 3 — after winter break. Most importantly, sign-ups are next Tuesday, Dec. 14, 5-7 p.m. at the Bryant Room of Gibbs Library.

About browntail moths, again

The browntail moth is an invasive species found only on the coast of Maine and Cape Cod. These pretty little pure white moths are an insect of both forest and human health concern because they evolve into the browntail moth caterpillar. The caterpillar is covered with tiny, barbed, poisonous hairs that cause a rash similar to poison ivy, and can trigger breathing problems. For some people, these symptoms can be extremely serious. The Maine Forest Service (MFS — part of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry) is the agency that watches what’s going on with the browntail moth (BTM) population. Being holiday season and all, browntails might not be on your radar, but for the sake of the growing number of people who are made miserable by the BTM’s hairs, please pay attention. We Washingtonites — and everyone else, too — can help suppress the numbers of the caterpillars that develop from the moths. Browntail moths produce one generation per year and have four life stages: egg, larval (caterpillar), pupal, and adult. The caterpillars eat tree leaves in summer and over winter in webs they build. In spring, they spin the cocoons, in which they will become moths and start the cycle over. So, mid-December through March, when they are in their webs, is the best time to destroy them. One easy way to do that is to snip off their webs — usually at the ends of small branches and drop them into soapy water — I discard the dead caterpillars into the trash to avoid their hairs ending up in the soil, leaf pile or compost bin to be inadvertently exposed later during yard work. For me, this is all about avoiding the itchies. If we all check the trees and shrubs around our own places we can help get rid of these pretty much unredeemable creatures. Maine Forest Service will survey and report on overwintering webs locations. Unfortunately, the annual increase over the past five years is likely again. I feel like I can do something about these pests, which is good for my morale. You, too, I hope.

P.S. Future “news” about these buggers will be only short reminders, and an appeal for “someone” to do “something” about the infested tree in front of the town office. Promise.

December – Universal Human Rights Month

Dec. 10-17, Human Rights Week

Dec. 10, Human Rights Day

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home . . . the world of the individual person; the neighborhood; the school or college; the factory, farm, or office. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without upholding them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

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