Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Welcome to Lee!

By: Melanie Brooks

Yesterday my esteemed assistant Ashley and I hopped in my car and drove to Lee. Our purpose -- besides having an adventure -- was to do some reporting for an article I'm writing about private high schools for the September issue. We spent the morning with some staff and students of Lee Academy.

Nestled (hiding out really) in the Lincoln Lakes region of Maine, Lee Academy is an international high school. With just about 275 students, almost 100 of them are boarding students from abroad. Kids from 11 different nations including China, Vietnam, Australia, Germany, and Israel bring in international flair to the rural academy.

The main schoolhouse (pictured below) has a historic charm to it. The wood floors are shiny and worn from years of boots, saddle shoes, and sneakers.

The cafeteria is an old hunting lodge. A big stone fireplace still stands inside. Ashley spent a good hour interviewing a handful of students -- both domestic and international. They were good sports and posed for a picture.

(Left to Right: Ben Guido, Taylor Averill, Samer Jassar, Blake Stevens, Jason Oh, Vu Phan)

But there's more to Lee than the Academy. After our interviews, Ashley and I headed over to Raymond's for some lunch. If you have a hankering for a delicious sub sandwich and you also need to pick up some blaze orange hunting gear, a pair of sunglasses, and a can of beans, Raymond's is your place. We even got to watch Wheel of Fortune during our lunch! What a deal!

We were so taken with the local diner that we decided to drive around a little bit and see what else we could find.

Need a picnic table to an outhouse? This place was right down the street from Raymond's on the left. Tell 'em Bangor Metro sent cha!

We even ran into a cow that was pretending to be a giraffe. So handsome!

We were also taken by this adorable general store/ice cream shop. Had we had any room in our tummies from lunch, this would have been our next stop.

So the next time you drive through this little village, take a look around. You never know what you're going to find!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Guilford, Maine: ground zero for laptops

By: Leslie Bowman

This past Friday Henry Garfield and I went to SAD 4 in Guilford to learn where Maine's laptop program really started. Principal Jim Chasse hosted us for a full day visit with students and teachers.

Crystal Priest, the woman behind the first "one to one" program (that is one laptop per student) gave us a tour of the district's technology control center and selected classrooms. A feature on the laptop program will appear in an upcoming issue of Bangor Metro. Until then check out some photos below!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


By: Melanie Brooks

Bangor Metro's global headquarters at One Cumberland Place has been working on all cylinders this week. Christine, Justin, and Michelle have been finalizing the ads for our June/July issue and starting to sell for August, September, and the holidays. Tori has finally finished writing her awe-inspiring 30-page tribute to Bangor's history and Sandy, our designer, has been putting the finishing touches on each of the pages, for the past two days. Leslie and Annaliese, both of whom were on vacation for part of last week and the beginning of this week, have been working overtime to catch up on their photo editing and proofreading duties.

And as for me -- what have I been doing? A little bit of everything as you can see from this photo of my desk.

Who was it that said that a messy office is a sign of high productivity? I know I've heard that somewhere...

The production staff worked late into the evening last night (seriously...I didn't get home until 10:15) to make our 4:30 pm deadline today. This afternoon, come hell or high water, we will be sending this 140-page monster-of-an-issue to the printer. It will land in your mailboxes and on the newsstands in a few weeks. I am so proud of this historical issue! Tori has been working tirelessly for over a month, reading books and articles on the history of Bangor and combing through hundreds of photos with Dana Lippitt at the Bangor Museum and History Center. It looks fantastic and I know our readers are going to love it!

As a teaser I have put together a slideshow with some of the photos we used for the history section below. I do hope you pick up the June/July issue and read through it. I promise you you'll learn something about Bangor that you never imagined.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Doughnut Guy

By: Melanie Brooks

In the April issue of Bangor Metro we featured my father, Brian Brooks, and his delicious doughnuts. Nepotism aside, my dad really does make lip-smacking homemade doughnuts. Try his recipe and see for yourself.

Ever since the issue hit the stands my father has been recognized as The Doughnut Guy around town. People all over the University of Maine, where my dad has worked in facilities management for over 25 years, have been asking him to make them doughnuts. The aunt of one of my friends recognized him at a BBQ a couple of weekends ago. He's astounded at the reception he's been getting -- even from family members who had no idea doughnut making was in his blood.

Not used to the recognition and celebrity that comes with being featured in the Bangor Metro, my dad just shakes his head. But a phone message on Monday night had us all floored.

My father got a voicemail from Marie in Stonington who is known locally as The Doughnut Lady. She read the article and was so compelled (or enamored -- my father is rather handsome) that she looked him up in the phone book and gave him a call to talk turkey, er, doughnuts. We're planning a vacation in Stonington this summer and it's my goal to get The Doughnut Lady and The Doughnut Guy together for a photo and, hopefully, some doughnuts.

It's a small world -- and I love it!

Oh and by the way -- I'm entering this post in a food writing contest at I'll let you know if I win!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Trail Mix

By: Ashley Pearson
Photos: Emily Sypher

I love to be outside, and so does my dog. If we get tired of playing fetch in the backyard, then it's time for a road trip to the Bangor City Forest on Stillwater Avenue.

The Bangor City Forest covers about 650 acres, has 4.6 miles of access roads, and 9.2 miles of walking and cross country trails. Right about this time of year, it's flourishing in greenery and wildlife.

It's a great place for critters and people alike. If you have a dog, make sure to keep your pet on a leash and bring doggie poo-poo bags just in case.

For those who are directionally challenged, the city provides maps at the parking lot to ensure that no one gets lost. Plus, there's plenty of signs along the trails that will point you in the right direction. There's a high probability that you'll run into walkers or bikers on the trails too.

There's also a bunch of neat little information tid-bits on the trails. While you're walking through the serene woods, pause to read a few. You might learn the names of trees, plants, and even the life cycle of insects. Way cool.

Don't miss the Orono Bog Boardwalk either: It's a roughly 500-foot-long wooden walkway over wetland and peat.

By the time you're done exploring the bog and the forest (make sure you climb the landfill for a spectacular view) enjoy a snack at the picnic tables where you left your car.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Buongiorno Giacomo's!

By: Ashley Pearson

This Italian shop in downtown Bangor is back, and it’s brighter and better than before, with a new menu, plus catering and takeout options.

Just three days after re-opening on May 11th, Giacomo’s is bustling with lunchtime customers, and the smell of bread and provolone cheese is mouth watering. It's a good thing I'm hungry.

“We try to make it as authentic as possible,” says owner Milva Smith. “We’ve got a more Italian style.” Smith’s parents are originally from Lettomanopello, which is near Abruzzo, Italy.

The new Giacomo’s not only has fresh paint and clusters of tables for customers to enjoy, but it also has new sandwiches, soups, cheeses, and wines. It’s a huge change from the old Giacomo’s, which closed in mid-February due to technical issues.

“It’s fun to watch customers come in, and just stare at first,” says Smith. “We wanted to rework the concept, tweak the design. It’s like we grew up a little bit.”

As I'm trying to decide what to eat for lunch, I notice what's on the plates of a mother-daughter pair sitting by the window. Michelle Ruhlin, and her daughter, Ellie, are just finishing their turkey sandwiches.

"I came in before Giacomo's rearranged itself," says Michelle. "I really appreciate the bathrooms that were added."

Ellie nods her head as she surveys the remains of her meal. "Yup, I think it's good," she says with finality.

Some customers don't order Italian. Kip Emerson's happy with a good cup of coffee and a bag of chips.

Not me. I've settled on a Genoa salami sandwich.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Orono Tasting Bee

By: Melanie Brooks

Last night I headed over to Asa Adams School in Orono for the Tasting Bee benefiting the new Orono Public Library. Never having been to a Tasting Bee I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was glad I didn't have to spell anything!

The line was long and the tables were packed! For $10 ($5 for kids) people sampled food from Lissus Pizza, Governor's, Woodman's Grill, Harvest Moon Deli, The Sports Cafe, Pat's, and Margarita's.

The folks over at Harvest Moon sure know how to make a sandwich! Their potato salad was pretty darn tasty, too!

Not only did Margarita's bring their mouthwatering fajitas...they brought sombreros to share!

One of my local favorites, Woodman's brought some of their divine spinach and artichoke dip as well as some fried fish. My friend Jenn and I headed over there after the Bee for one of their delicious martinis.

As you can see our plates were pretty loaded down with food and we left with full bellies. Good food + good company + a good cause = a good night!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Commuting Challenges

By: Ashley Pearson

Some may find it easier to participate in the 15th Annual Commuter Challenge than others, depending on the distance from home to the workspace.

The challenge, sponsored by GO MAINE, is a program of the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Turnpike Authority. It encourages people to find alternative modes of transportation to work for a week. For example, why not walk to work if the office is nearby? Or how about biking to work?

The BAT bus system can help with a web of routes that covers Bangor, Brewer, Old Town, and Orono. True, riding the BAT can be...interesting at times, but it’s relatively harmless, especially at 7 am in the morning.

However, walking, biking, or taking a bus might be difficult for employees that live far away from their jobs. Enter carpooling. Hopefully, your neighbor is friendly enough to want to share a ride into work, and has a job in the same general area. And, if the ride is on the lengthy side, pop in a good CD and catch up on the latest events or movies.

It might be fun to be creative during commuter week too. This Thursday is Try Anything Day. Try taking a different route to work. Do something different. Get your morning cup of coffee from somewhere new.

Either way, whether it’s carpooling or biking to work, the environment will suffer less pollution, and everyone who participates in the commuter challenge will have a smaller carbon footprint. An individual carbon footprint is determined by various factors, like household size, car, travel time, heating costs, etc.

Curious? Calculate your own carbon footprint here:

Best Restaurants 2009

It's time to vote for your favorite restaurants!

Every year, Bangor Metro publishes a Best Restaurant issue. This is your opportunity to highlight the restaurants you love best and learn about new ones. So far, only 16 ballots have been turned it, which definitely doesn’t represent the entirety of the restaurant lovers in the area.

So that means YOU need to fill out the ballot pages found in the May issue of Bangor Metro! The voting deadline is June 1, 2009, so get your ballot in before time runs out!

Here are the categories:

Best lobster shack
Best family restaurant
Best romantic dinner
Best place to watch the game
Best chowder
Best steak
Best pizza
Best value for money
Best coffee
Best dessert
Best salad/salad bar
Best brunch
Best sandwich
Best place to bring a group
Best cocktails
Best wine list
Best neighborhood pub
Best service
Best destination restaurant
Best vegetarian
Best buffet
Best Chinese takeout

Below are the rules:

1. One vote per person. That’s why we ask for your name and contact info.

2. Any restaurant in the 8 counties of the Bangor metro is eligible. (Penobscot, Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Piscataquis, Somerset, Washington, and Aroostook.)

3. Fill out only those categories you feel strongly about.

4. Vote for any place located in the metro, even those off the path. We’ll mention some of the runners-up.

5. No photocopies allowed this year, due to ballot-stacking by over-eager restaurateurs.

6. Grab a ballot in the May issue, fill it out, and mail it back to us—or drop if in person—or pick an official ballot up at our offices at One Cumberland Place, Suite 316 in Bangor.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

First Friday at the Maine Discovery Museum

If you're looking for something fun to do with your kids, look no further than First Friday Nights at the Maine Discovery Museum. From 5-8 pm, admission is free and you can let your kids run wild!

Catch a glimpse of your favorite reptiles and amphibians on the first floor. Climb the two story treehouse and sit inside a beaver hut! Upstairs you can work on a cargo boat, serve your family in the kid-sized kitchen, and check out Zuckerman's Farm from the book Charlotte's Web.

Check out some of the happy faces we saw last night:

For more information and a calendar of events click here.