George Smith's blog

Fish and Wildlife Department Has $3 million surplus

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Legislators were surprised yesterday to learn that the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department has a surplus of $3 million. I could see their eyes light up as thoughts of how to spend that money danced in their heads. My eyes lit up too!

Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock led a lengthy list of speakers from his agency who introduced themselves to the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee yesterday and discussed current projects and issues. Next week the committee will hear from all the lobbyists who appear before the committee.

A surprisingly fine restaurant in downtown Rumford

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                We haven’t been to Rumford in a while and were surprised to be reminded that it isn’t all that far away. Just a 50 minute drive from home and we were following signs from Route 2 that directed us to Brian’s Bistro in the Hotel Harris in the downtown section of the city.  

                The beauty of this space hits you immediately. The tall ceilings painted in black and accented with wide beams painted white are sure to grab your attention. The big open room with large windows and gorgeous old wooden floors has been artfully decorated by Jessica, who owns the Bistro with her husband Brian, who is the chef. Just so happens she has a degree in design and has put that degree to good use. I fell in love with the candle collections hanging in the front windows. Those candles combined with soft lighting make this restaurant more intimate.

The Phippsburg Sportsmen’s Association thrives by focusing on kids

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                While many Maine fish and game clubs are struggling, the Phippsburg Sportsmen’s Association is not one of them. The club’s January 2015 newsletter reminded me of just how much I have always appreciated the work, at the local, regional, and state level, of these folks.

                On February 8th, the club hosts its 16th annual Dickie LeMont “Take-A-Kid-Fishing” ice fishing derby. The derby committee meets every Wednesday night, planning this very popular event. “This is our biggest annual event,” reported the newsletter, “and we are getting excited to see what this year’s event will have in store.” Members and local businesses donated to help pay for the pack baskets, traps, services, and gift cards that are given to the kids as prizes.

The Historical Atlas of Maine is ambitious and fascinating

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             The Historical Atlas of Maine is a historic book, oversized and ambitious, covering Maine’s history from the Ice Age to 2000, in 203 pages crammed with maps, photographs, charts, and text.

            It’s so big it’s hard to pick up, but it’s even harder to put down. Editors Stephen Hornsby and Richard Judd spent ten years putting this fascinating book together, with financial assistance from a lengthy list of funding sources including foundations, the Maine legislature, and Ocean Properties. Many writers and historians contributed text, photographs, and art to the book.

A Snowy Owl Story for a Snowy Day

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                 Those staring eyes of a Snowy Owl on the cover will grab lots of readers for Melissa Kim’s new book, A Snowy Owl Story, published by Islandport Press in Yarmouth. The cover illustrations and others in the book were done by the obviously-very-talented Jada Fitch of Portland.

                This is a children’s board book, slated for release later this month, and the first in a series called “Wildlife on the Move.” The series is a partnership between Islandport Press and Maine Audubon.

Café Miranda offers Adventures in Comfort Food and lots more

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                Some restaurants are so special that I often find myself thinking about their food. That’s certainly true of Cafe Miranda in Rockland. I can close my eyes and almost see their Fire Roasted Greens dish. Seasonal greens, caramelized onions and mushrooms are roasted in their wood-fired oven, then served with a balsamic drizzle and a chunk of feta cheese. You know a dish is great when even George gets excited about a vegetable appetizer.

                I crave that dish whenever I think about it, so I try not to think about it because I don’t have a wood-fired oven. Then along comes Chef/Owner Kerry Altiero’s new cookbook, Adventures in Comfort Food, and there it is: a recipe for Oven Roasted Kale. I don’t know how well my oven cooks at 500 degrees, but I will surely be trying it this winter.

Remembering the words and wisdom of Bill Clark

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                 Bill Clark described himself as “a country boy with country leanings.” He authored 8 books and wrote a weekly newspaper column for the Gannett newspapers for 30 years on patriotism, farms, forests, rural towns, local characters, and the hills of Maine.

                Bill was conservative. He disdained environmentalists, believing their drive to preserve land worked against logging, hunting, fishing, and other traditional activities. He detested bureaucrats, but used humor, rather than harshness, in his criticisms. And he inspired many of us to write letters to the editor, and more.

                I received a thank you card from Bill once, for a letter to the editor I’d written. “Most persons who enjoy (my column) write to me. Those who condemn write to editors. I appreciate your being the exception,” he said.

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