Saturday, September 30, 2017

Business Spotlight on Recovery Liaison Program by Michelle Libby addiction is a national issue spotlighted frequently on the evening news. In Westbrook, Windham, Buxton and Gorham, they are doing something for those in recovery through a state grant-funded program that is running from October 2016 to June 2018. The Recovery Liaison Program public safety grant is overseen by Recovery Liaison Danielle Rideout, who is based at the Westbrook Public Safety building. 
“The grant to deal with the opiate problem is the state’s way of addressing it,” said Rideout. “The program is for anyone who is trying to get into recovery or is in early recovery, not just people already on recovery.”

The Recovery Liaison Program helps people get connected with housing, a primary care doctor, food pantries, health insurance and employment. “It’s to help sustain their recovery and build that foundation,” said Rideout, a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. When someone goes to treatment and returns to the same house and has the same friends it’s a recipe for relapse, she said. Before taking this position, Rideout worked in the probation and parole office as a counselor. Her job now is to hook her clients up with the recovery community as soon as possible. They are also paired with a recovery coach, someone who has been through the process and has had 30 hours of training. “It’s important to have another peer in recovery to talk to,” she added. 

Rideout spends one day a week at each police station working with people who have been referred to her from police officers, probation and parole officers, the jail staff and word of mouth. The fifth day is spent at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland, conducting sessions with people from her towns, after they attend group sessions with others from the team. Since February, at least 300 inmates have attended the group sessions during their free time. She tries to help as many people as possible. Not all of them are involved in the criminal justice system, she said. On average she works with 13 or 14 people at any one time. The program also partners with Grace Street Recovery Services. 

This recovery oriented system of care includes all aspects of someone’s life. When someone is dependent on a substance, the substance takes priority over everything else in life including family connections, jobs and health. This program helps them reconnect to society and their community. 

“I check in daily. I let them know I care – that someone cares,” Rideout said. Through her job, she attends court with people and brings them to the food pantry. “It’s not all paperwork,” she said. 

The need to help people is huge since there isn’t another program like this. Most programs are focused on getting people into treatment, which is greatly lacking in the state, she said. Aftercare services for those in recovery are also in short supply. Waitlists of four to six months for grant treatment programs are not unheard of and people die while waiting for a place. The epidemic is generational. People with substance use disorders often have some trauma or abuse in their past, Rideout said. The drugs “trick you into thinking it’s fixing (the problem).” 

Rideout knows all of the treatment and detox locations in New England and does what she can to get people into them, even if it means working deals with the centers or setting up GoFundMe accounts to pay for it, often needing special approval from the state. 

Danielle Rideout
“People are so grateful; they ask ‘how can I give back?’ That’s why I’m able to do this work day in and day out,” said Rideout. “People want to give back after they are helped.” 

Relapses are part of the process, but each time something is learned and gained, Rideout said.
“It might be two steps forward and three steps back, but you still have those two forward.” 

The program is overseen by an Advisory Board that meets every three months. At the Westbrook Police Department, those involved in the program are Police Chief Janine Roberts, Captain Steve Goldberg and Community Approach to Stop Heroine (CASH) coordinator Shelby Briggs.
“The hope given loved ones of those struggling with opioid use disorder and those living with the disorder, has a significant positive impact on their lives and dreams for a future,” said Roberts. “The connections to resources and community for those who have decided to join the program have created opportunities to fight through the disorder, finding a new meaning for life. Connecting those in need of life sustaining supports at their local community level, allows them to focus on recovery and provides a higher percentage of success at attaining long term recovery.”

Rideout is hoping to have another recovery coach training in 2018. She often posts requests for donations on Facebook yard sale sites, hoping to help people furnish apartments or get back on their feet in some way. She keeps a stock of sheets and clothes in her car and office for those who might need them, she said. However, she doesn’t have storage for large items.

For more on the program call or text Rideout at 207-303-4009 or email Walk-ins to any of the four police stations are another way to connect with the services.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Business spotlight on Stryve, Inc. College Planning Services by Michelle Libby knowing where to begin the college planning process can feel overwhelming or sometimes families begin and then realize that they have more questions than answers. Enlisting a College Planning Advisor can help families get answers to their questions and provide them with an objective 3rd party who can oversee and manage all aspects of the admissions process. 

Bill and Stephanie Whiting, College Planning Advisors and owners of Stryve, Inc. feel they offer a unique approach to college planning. “Through our own experiences we began to recognize a need that families had. It just made sense for us to combine our backgrounds, so that we could offer families support through every step of the college planning process,” said Stephanie Whiting.

Bill is a self employed CPA and Financial Planner. Working with hundreds of families over the last 20 years has given him a realistic perspective on the impact paying for college can have on a family. 

“Paying for a college education is a huge investment. There are many aspects to consider that have both short and long term implications,” Bill said.  He uses his expertise in the areas of tax and financial planning to assist families with developing a strategic plan to pay for college that won’t effect their long term financial goals. Bill also works with students to look at their projected total loan debt and helps them to consider how that will impact them once they graduate from college. 

Bill Whiting
Stephanie has her master’s degree in education and is a certified teacher. She has taught in a variety of educational settings for the past 15+ years. She is thrilled to be able to combine her background and skills to fulfill her passion for helping high school students discover who they are and determine what direction they want to take after they graduate. Stephanie believes that knowledge is power and begins the process with the “Getting to Know You” phase. Through one on one discussions, interest surveys and personality assessments, students begin to understand who they are and what’s important to them. Stephanie spends a lot of time helping her students interpret their results and shows them how using the information can help them make informed decisions about their future. 

“Given that we have gone through this process with two of our own children, we understand the stress that families undergo. One of the benefits of working with us is that we can take some of that stress out of the household,” said Stephanie.

In order to be sure that families are making an informed decision that they feel good about, Bill and Stephanie have developed a process that is called “Steps to realize your vision and excel” (Stryve). 

These 7 steps are:
• Getting to Know You
• Career Exploration
• Paying for College
• Best Fit College Selection
• College Admission Process
• Evaluation of Offers
• Transition Planning 
Stephanie Whiting

“Statistics show that it takes the average college student 5 1/2 years to graduate and that they  change their major 3 times. We are confident that we have developed a process that lends itself to thoughtful research and planning and by working with us, families save time and money. A lot of time is spent on making sure that the colleges that a student is considering are a good fit for them socially, academically, and financially,” states Bill Whiting. 

Stryve offers a 30 hour comprehensive package which includes all of the services above or a 10 hour package, so families can choose which services they would most benefit from. We can also customize our services to meet individual needs. We begin the process by meeting with families for a no cost consultation to listen to their concerns and questions. From there, we can recommend the services/package that we feel best meets their needs.

To learn more visit their website: www. or to set up a no cost consultation call (207)253-9261 or email <

Friday, September 15, 2017

Business Spotlight: Plummer Senior Living by Michelle Libby new senior living apartment complex is opening November 1 in Falmouth, on the site of the Sampson D. Plummer School, 192 Middle Road. Blending the charm of a historic building with modern conveniences, this new community will provide residents a carefree place to live independently with access to shopping, trails, the Mason-Motz Activity Center and a whole lot more. 

The project is a conglomeration of owners: John Wasileski, who owns the nearby Oceanview, Kevin Bunker from Developers Collaborative and Matt Teare and Chris Wasileski from Sea Coast Management. Benchmark is doing the construction and Gawron Turgeon Architects, P.C. designed the space especially for seniors. 

Each of the 34 apartments has a special quirk or piece of school nostalgia from a chalkboard railing to the original wood floors. One apartment has the old stage and a curved wall along with the large classroom windows that have been refinished. There are many original school doors used for the entrances to the spacious apartments. The apartments on the second floor have very high ceilings. 

The smallest apartment is 500 square feet and the largest is 1,300 square feet. Four of the apartments are ADA compliant and will accommodate a wheelchair or electric scooter. Each apartment comes with a parking space with extra space for visitors. 

The apartments have individual heat pumps and the original building has baseboard heating that is controlled by the building. 

“It’s a lifestyle that enriches independent living,” said assistant property manager Danielle Purington. “I think it’s the location and accessibility to the services that seniors need or want that makes it stand out.” 

Construction began in spring of 2016 and should be completed by November 1, 2017. The property aims to help the “middle market” seniors who make too much for low income and not enough to pay for the high-end rentals. 

Developers Collaborative specializes in historical businesses and the refurbishing of schools into living spaces. This is the first senior living space, but the company also refurbished the Nathan Clifford School and Rosa True both in Portland.

“It’s neat how they work through the spaces,” she said. 

One of the amenities to living at Plummer Senior Living is an on-site services coordinator, who will be available in the main office five days a week to help be a liaison to connect residents with services in the area; like transportation for groceries, medical appointments or to have a meal plan delivered daily or weekly. 

“If they don’t know how to navigate things, this person can help,” said Purington. 

There is also a community room, which will be open to all for socializing, monthly meals, movie nights and anything else the residents would like. There will be landscaping all around and professionals will take care of that and maintenance and snow removal. 

“As we see who the residents are, we will plan things like art shows or a sewing circle,” she said.
“There is a real need,” said Purington. People want to stay in the area, but can’t afford to. “People need a place to live independently within a community where it’s not going to break the bank.” The lifestyle and the carefree living are worth the time to see Plummer Senior Living. 

Right now renters have a great selection of apartments on all three floors. And the first floor of the new wing accepts pets. DC Management is handling the marketing, leasing and management.
For more information or to schedule a tour, visit or call Danielle at 207-772-3225 or email

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Business Spotlight on Drouin Dance Center by Michelle Libby years ago, Danielle Drouin took her love and passion for dance and opened Drouin Dance Center in Westbrook, in what was once a run-down mill in her neighborhood. Today, the dance center occupies 9,000 square feet of space on the second floor of the Dana Warp Mill on Bridge Street. 

“We feel like dance is good for everyone. It’s fun and a self confidence booster,” said Drouin.

Drouin Dance Center offers dance classes for all ages and abilities in five different classrooms. The large waiting room offers a place for parents and siblings to wait for the children. They can watch the classes on the closed circuit televisions mounted on the wall. 

“The kids don’t know they are being watched,” said Drouin. 

Classes start at ages as early as 1-year olds, if walking. Each year there is a new class with age appropriate activities: 2-year olds work on music and movement and 3-year olds do creative movement also considered pre-ballet and other music and rhythm activities; 4-year olds have a more dance based class and 5-year-olds can start taking more than one class - like ballet and tap or ballet and jazz. After that, students can take a variety of classes including hip hop, acrobatics, lyrical, ballet, tap, jazz and modern. 

There are approximately 500 students in all of the classes. 

Adult dancers from ages 20 to 72 are enrolled in classes. Some do it as a social activity and others do it as exercise. “There’s a comradery in the classes,” said office manager and teacher Brittany Goodnow. Adults are offered classes in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, Irish step dance and contemporary. 

“There are tons of people in it. It’s good for the kids to see you can keep dancing your whole life for exercise,” said Drouin. “Empty nesters do it to keep busy.” Some parents take the dance classes because they see their children dancing. They perform together at the recital in the spring. “It’s usually the kids calming the parents down at the recital,” she added. 

Recitals take place once a year and there are three shows to showcase the talent from the school. Everyone does at least one performance and others do two shows, said Drouin. 

Students come from the area and as far away as Scarborough, Parsonsfield, Windham, Raymond, Standish and more.

Drouin Dance Center has a dance company which students audition for and compete year round. The 50 dancers are committed to the team and many do intensive training over the summer. Some are also on other dance teams in Boston and New York. 

Each year, Drouin Dance Center holds a winter show in January for children ages three and up. This year’s show will be Snow White. The auditions are open to all, including those who don’t take dance classes in the center. 

What makes Drouin Dance Center different from other studios is the quality of the classes. “All of our instructors are amazing and have great dance education experience,” said Drouin. “We’re positive, not cut throat.” There are 18 instructors. 

In addition to the school year classes, Drouin Dance Center also offers six-week-workshops. The classes are for adults, families and there is no recital. 

“I danced my whole life growing up. I worked as a professional dancer in New York City. It was always my dream,” she said. She performed in 42nd Street and for Paramount Productions and small companies. The center also gives back to the community, offering classes for the teen center in Westbrook, the Riverton Boys and Girls Club, St. Brigid School in Portland and area day care centers. 

Drouin also offers birthday parties up to 12 children with the dance class of the family’s choosing and a party room after the hour class. 

Classes are filling up, but registrations are taken until Thanksgiving as class size allows. Workshops start the week of October 9. To reserve a space, call 207-854-2221, email or visit the website for more information and class schedules, at

Friday, September 1, 2017

Business spotlight on Atlantic Heating Company, Inc. by Michelle Libby Heating Company in Portland recently purchased Steinert Co., Inc. in Windham to expand its service and discount oil into the Sebago region. Owned by Bill Morrell, who has worked for the company since he was 12 years old, this family owned business was started in 1969 by Bill’s father Stan. 
“We are the only local, full service discount oil company in the Lakes region,” Morrell said. Atlantic Heating Company offers everything one needs to maintain your home. It also services gas and propane heating units, does air conditioning and light plumbing. They are the, “One call does it all” company!

The company sells oil at a discounted rate and offers a complete service department. 

“We install and service everything,” Morrell said. The newest technology is heat pumps, which give your home heating and cooling in one unit. “Everyone wants high efficiency depending on the heat source.” Today’s new oil fired, triple pass cold start boilers are a 30 percent more efficient system.

Servicing a heating system every year can save up to 25 percent in heating costs and eliminates the need for an emergency call by 50 percent, said Morrell. Soot in a boiler can cause blockages and acts as an insulator. In propane or gas units checking the safety controls and for leaks is imperative.

“We remind our customers when they’re due. We send out reminders and make phone calls,” said Jeff Bellino operations manager. 

“A well-maintained system will last 30 years if maintained,” said Morrell. “It’s the most important thing in your house. What’s more important than to heat your house in the winter in Maine?” 

Morrell has many stories of homeowners who return from vacation to frozen pipes with water running out the front door. A yearly tune up can save a lot of aggravation. 

During a service call, a technician will do an inspection and check the status of the system, and advise whether a homeowner should consider replacing it or continue to get yearly maintenance. 

Additionally, Atlantic Heating Company installs house monitor systems that can alert a homeowner when something goes wrong. It can also turn the heat up and down from a cell phone. If power is lost to the house, a text message is sent. If the temperature gets low, an alarm sounds inside the house and a text message is sent. The sensor on the floor in the basement can alert someone if the sump pump fails and water is rising. This peace of mind costs under $500, said Bellino. 

Atlantic Heating Company covers the greater Portland area from Cape Elizabeth, South Portland, Scarborough, and Old Orchard Beach to Buxton, Saco, Gorham, Standish, Westbrook, Cumberland, Yarmouth, Windham, Raymond, Casco and Naples.

All 10 of the technicians on staff are licensed by the State of Maine and constantly receive education on new equipment in house and off site. “That’s what separates us from the other competitors,” said Bellino. There are 20 employees at Atlantic Heating Company. The Steinert offices on the corner of Route 302 and Route 35 in Windham will remain open as a satellite office and customers are encouraged to ask questions in that office, as well as the main office on Riverside Industrial Parkway in Portland.

All new customers receive five cents off, per gallon on the first fill of 150 gallons or more. Atlantic Heating Company is open Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on call 24/7 for emergency calls. They have built a reputation for quality work and dependability and guarantee prompt, courteous service. They look forward to working with former Steinert Co. customers and are excited to welcome new clients from the Sebago area as well.

For more information, call one of two convenient numbers 892-5683 and 797-7218, email or visit them online at

How much should I save for emergencies? Courtesy of Windham Edward Jones

It’s always a good idea to save some cash for a “rainy day.” An Edward Jones financial advisor can help make sure your savings support your overall financial strategy. After all, you’ve worked hard to keep your financial strategy on track, right? An unexpected expense could easily derail that strategy.
That's why it's so important to prepare for unexpected events or expenses, like:

A job loss or early retirement
Large housing or auto repairs
Expenses related to child care or aging parents
Creating an emergency fund

One way to prepare financially for things like these is by creating an emergency fund. We know that putting money away to prepare for the unexpected can be hard, especially if you don't know how much you'll need – after all, they call these unexpected expenses for a reason.

As a starting point, consider saving:

If you're still working - between three and six months' worth of living expenses

If you are retired - up to three months of living expenses for emergencies, as well as about 12 months' worth of living expenses (after accounting for outside sources of income) to provide for your everyday spending

Why the ranges? If you're employed, these guidelines factor in the average length of unemployment – four months – as well as the potential for other needs. If you’re retired, you face many of the same potential emergencies (excluding a job loss) – except you are now also responsible for creating your own "paycheck" for your everyday expenses.

Regardless of whether you're working or not, you may also want to look into your access to a personal line of credit. It can help you supplement your emergency savings if the need arises.

How much should I have in cash for other USES?

While you might think “the more, the better,” that isn’t necessarily the case. Having too much of your savings sitting in cash can be an issue, especially when you’re investing for long-term goals such as retirement. Ultimately, your cash strategy can be a key factor in your long-term financial success.

To determine the role of cash in your financial life and how much you should have, look at your “USES”:

Unexpected expenses and emergencies – cash used for situations such as a job loss, a home repair or an unplanned medical expense.

Specific short-term savings goals – cash dedicated for a goal that will occur within the next year or so, such as a wedding or vacation.

Everyday spending – cash used for your lifestyle and day-to-day spending needs, such as groceries, utilities, mortgage and debt payments, and entertainment.

Source of investment – cash used as an asset class and as a source for investment opportunities
Use the chart below as a starting point to think about how much cash you may need for different USES: