March Health Beat

“Karen’s Kolumn” is researched and written by Public Health Nurse Karen Dolley. We appreciate her support and willingness to share!

Eighty percent of learning is visual during the first twelve years of life. Growth, development, and academic success are directly linked to good vision. We all take our vision for granted……until it begins to diminish! March is the American Optometric Association’s annual Save Your Vision Month and is a reminder not to take our vision for granted.

The focus this year is healthy vision in the workplace. Much of the focus is on prolonged use of computers and other handheld devices. Eye and vision problems are the most frequently reported health care problems among people who sit in front of a computer for long periods of time. If this sounds like you, you may have Computer Vision Syndrome! Prolonged use of these devices may cause a person to look straight ahead for long periods of time and to blink less often. Recommendations include resting eyes often, blinking forcefully, and humidifying the air if possible.

Common symptoms of vision impairment include blurred vision, excessively watery eyes, double vision, headaches, red eyes, squinting, and excessive blinking.

To protect our eyes and our vision the AOA suggests wearing UV blocking sunglasses which delay the development of cataracts and prevents retinal damage; if you smoke cigarettes, stop, as this is directly linked to age related macular degeneration and cataracts; include vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables and fruits in your diet; wear eye protection when playing sports and while involved with home repairs including mowing and weed whacking; have regular eye exams; be aware of eye fatigue and rest eyes often. Try to look up and away from a computer screen every 10 minutes focusing on an object at least 10 feet away for at least 10 seconds.

There are many benefits of regular eye exams. If eyesight is decreasing, corrective measures can be taken right away. Diabetes is often diagnosed during an eye exam and diseases like glaucoma can be quickly detected and treated. AOA recommends yearly exams for any person with eye symptoms and for persons 65 years of age and older. Eye exams are recommended every two years for persons ages 40-65 with no symptoms.

More information can be found at

March Bookworm Schedule

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. 

~Groucho Marx

Tuesday, March 2 – Walter BoomsmaReading is fun!

Thursday, March 4 – Nathalee Marsh

Tuesday, March 9 –  General Assembly at 9:30 AM, Newspapers in Education Awards

Thursday, March 11 – Guy Downing

Read ME Program—McKusick Elementary School
Tuesday, March 16 – Mrs. Cookson’s Kindergarten Class 8:45 – Guy Downing
Tuesday, March 16 –  Mrs. Kennedy’s Kindergarten Class 9:15 – Guy Downing
Tuesday, March 16 –  Mrs. Herrick’s Kindergarten Class 10:00 – Guy Downing
Wednesday, March 17 – Mrs. Quimby’s First Grade Class 9:00 – Linda Erwin
Wednesday, March 17 – Mrs. Pulkkinen’s First Grade Class 9:30 – Linda Erwin
Wednesday, March 17 – Miss Saporona’s First Grade Class 10:30 – Linda Erwin

ReadME Program — Guilford Primary School
Tuesday, March 16 – Miss Stephen’s Second Grade Class 9:00 – Walter Boomsma
Tuesday, March 16 – Mr. Arthers’ Third Grade Class 9:30 – Linda Erwin
Wednesday, March 17 – Mrs. Stearns’ Second Grade Class 9:00 – Walter Boomsma
Thursday, March 18 – Mrs. Gokas’ Second Grade Class 9:00 – Walter Boomsma
Thursday, March 18 – Mrs. Patten’s Third Grade Class 9:30 – Janice Boomsma

Tuesday, March 23 – Barbara Goodman

Thursday, March 25 – Linda Erwin

Tuesday, March 30 – Barbara Goodman

A Little Editorial…

Today I had the privilege of “bookworming” with young Taylor. We didn’t get very far into the book before it became clear that she is a very good reader! So it seemed strange that she would occasionally stop dead in the middle of a page.

I usually restrain myself from being quick to help so I got to watch her brow furrow and I could almost feel the concentration as she stared at the words. Then she’d proclaim, “That’s NOT right.”

When I’d look at where she’d stopped it was immediately obvious she was correct. I’m told that it’s not unusual for kids’ books to use dialect in the interest of “realism.” In Taylor’s chosen book one of the characters would occasionally use what we might kindly call “casual language.” He might for example, leave out a word or apply an expression that didn’t necessarily correctly fit.  That’s what stopped her. He wasn’t speaking correctly.

She wasn’t reading words–she was reading meaning. The character’s poor grammar was actually hiding the meaning from her. I don’t know if they give out gold stars in school anymore but I wished I had one to give her. They call that comprehension, right?!

Being something of a grammar nut I enjoyed analyzing the words with her to determine what was wrong and what the character actually meant.

Now we could debate the relative merits of this brand of “realism” in kids’ books but that’s for another day. I suppose we can allow that the end justifies the means, although my old-fashioned mind found it a bit odd that we discussed good grammar as a result of reading bad.

Today was a reminder that sometimes the words interfere with the meaning. But it was also a demonstration of the power of modeling. I gather Taylor wasn’t expecting to encounter bad grammar. She didn’t say, “that’s the way people talk.” She said, “That’s NOT right!”

In a time when we too often expect mediocrity in so many aspects of our lives,  isn’t it great that Taylor had trouble recognizing and understanding something because it wasn’t right?

Grange Bookworms Featured

During our February Meeting members were given the challenge similar to the one recently given to Guilford Primary School second and third graders: develop an advertisment for Valley Grange.  While many groaned, Roger Ricker got his creative brain cells working and came up with this:

Yearn to join!

Awesome! And is if that isn’t enough he added,

Good bread, good meat!
Good Grangers love to eat!

That sure says a lot about our Grange, Roger!

Don’t forget! The winners of the Newspapers in Education Contest will be annnounced in a special assembly at Guilford Primary School on Tuesday, March 9th!

Central Hall Is Central

Central Hall Today

In 1893 the Maine State Grange conducted its Twentieth Annual Session on December 19, 20, 21 at Central Hall in Dover. In his opening address, then State Master M. B. Hunt said, “The present is but the result of a long succession of the ages.” Over one hundred years later the succession is certainly longer, but the present is still so defined—by the succession of the ages.

There were some 95 Subordinate Granges throughout the state at that time. By way of comparison there were 155 listed in the 2009 roster—an interesting statistic to those who think the “Grange is dying.” Reading the Journal of Proceedings (minutes) of the three day event is certainly interesting—many of the challenges were not much different than today.  We cannot deny that our history is part of us and we are part of our history.

Perhaps because of my involvement with the Grange, I find it somewhat easy to picture those delegates assembling… walking across the road from the Blethen House where no doubt many stayed. I can see them making decisions that would become important parts of the “succession of the ages” and create a new present. 

Thanks to the work of the “Friends of Central Hall” many folks are recollecting other events and occasions and perhaps discovering how appropriate the name “Central” is. For many years, Central Hall was “central” to the lives and times of many. If you’ve missed the opportunity to be nostalgic, visit Central Hall on Saturday, March 6 from 10 am until 2 pm. Organizers are promising  a slideshow with historic photos, a time-line of exhibits of activities from the 1880s through the present, speakers  sharing more recent memories, guided tours (including the basement), and lots more.

At the close of the session over one hundred years ago, the body adopted the following resolution:  “ Resolved, that the members of the State Grange, now about to close, tender their sincere thanks to the citizens of Dover and Foxcroft for their very generous hospitality and attention during this session. “

George Bernard Shaw said, “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past but by the responsibility for our future.”  So I can’t help but wonder. Will the Maine State Grange meet at Central Hall again in the future?

Flat Stanley Visits Valley Grange

Flat Stanley checks out the Valley Grange website.

And just who is Flat Stanley? I guess he could be described as a “world traveler” who has the advantage of being flat so he can get around easily. I believe this started as a school project—vaguely remember one of the kids explaining him to me last year when he arrived at Guilford Primary School. He is a fun way for kids (and adults!) to learn some geography and make connections in other parts of the country. He arrived in my mail box from the Shelburne Falls Massachusetts Grange with the explanation, “We got your name from a publication that one of our State Grange members had saved and googled and found your web site.  We thought Flat Stanley would enjoy a trip to Maine…  I hope Flat Stanley is on his best behavior.” Included in the package was a “photo album” of his visit to Shelburne Falls… My task is to prepare a similar album before I return him so I’ll be looking for photo ops!

Flat Stanley will be at our meeting on Friday February 19th if you’d like to meet him! If you’re interested in having him visit your Grange or organization, let me know… or contact Deborah Vincent-Coutinho, Lecturer for Shelburne Massachusetts Grange #68.

Project Linus Blanket Day!

You’ll be in stitches… join the Project Linus folks on Saturday, February 20th at the Penquis HIgher Education Center in Dover Foxcroft from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM and help make 100 blankets for Maine Kids! Bring your own sewing machine and choose from three fun classes, work on your own project, or adopt a project in progress. A light breakfast and lunch will be available by donation. Donations of blanket-making supplies are also welcome. For more information email or visit the Project Linus Website.

Your Identity and the Census

With the U.S. Census process beginning, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises people to be cooperative, but cautious so as not to become a victim of fraud or identity theft.

 The first phase of the 2010 U.S. Census is under way as workers have begun verifying the addresses of households across the country.  Eventually, more than 140,000 U.S. Census workers will count every person in the United States and will gather information about every person living at each address including name, age, gender, race, and other relevant data.

If a U.S. Census worker knocks on your door, they will have a badge, a handheld device, a Census Bureau canvas bag, and a confidentiality notice. Ask to see their identification and their badge before answering their questions. However, you should never invite anyone you don’t know into your home.

Census workers are currently only knocking on doors to verify address information. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card or banking information to anyone, even if they claim they need it for the U.S. Census.

While the Census Bureau might ask for basic financial information, such as a salary range, you can refuse to answer questions about your financial situation. The Census Bureau will NOT ask for Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers, nor will employees solicit donations. Any one asking for that information is NOT with the Census Bureau.

 The Census Bureau will NOT contact you by, email, so be on the lookout for email scams impersonating the Census.

Never click on a link or open any attachments in an email that are supposedly from the U.S. Census Bureau. For more advice on avoiding identity theft and fraud, visit

Officer Descriptions Added!

If you revisit the “officer page” for this site, you’ll discover that we’ve added a brief description of each officer’s roles and responsbilities including the “symbol” for the office. Third graders learn some of these during the Words for Thirds presentation! Are you smarter than a third grader?

February Health Beat

“Karen’s Kolumn” is researched and written by Public Health Nurse Karen Dolley. We appreciate her support and willingness to share!

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to take care of our heart health?

February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. The four most common kinds of cardiovascular disease are heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and heart failure.

The purpose behind American Heart Month is to suggest lifestyle changes for improving quality of life, reduce the risk for heart disease, and empower all persons to take action in case of signs or symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.

High cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity-overweight, diabetes, tobacco use, and exposure to second hand smoke are all risk factors associated with heart disease.

The chance for developing heart disease can be reduced with a healthier lifestyle including eating a healthy diet, exercising, smoking cessation, and avoiding second hand smoke exposure. Some suggestions include (more…)