Say Watt? UMPI Maine Policy Scholar Presents on Power Transmission in Maine

You probably don’t think a lot about how your electricity comes to you. Usually you just flick a switch or press a button. We know that the power travels to our homes from power lines, but how does the power reach the power lines on the roads? The answer is transmission lines.

UMPI senior Evan Zarkadas was the Maine Policy Scholar for the campus this past year. He applied for the scholarship last October and was delighted to be announced as the UMPI scholar.

“I felt proud and honored,” Zarkadas said. “It was a great opportunity for me to advance my research and advocate for an issue that I thought the legislature should focus more on.”

The Maine Policy Scholarship is a year-long program where students work closely with a faculty advisor to explore an issue of policy in Maine. The student provides a final report in a memo to the governor or legislature and presents to a panel at the University of Maine. One student from each of the seven University of Maine System campuses is selected for this scholarship.

Zarkadas was assigned Dr. Larry Feinstein, assistant professor of biology at UMPI, as a mentor. “I serve on the Maine Policy Scholar committee,” Feinstein said. “When Evan was selected, the committee chose the faculty member who was most closely aligned with the student’s topic of interest to be their mentor.”

When he started, Zarkadas spent some time deciding what topic he wanted to cover. Although he was a history major, he wanted to explore beyond his expertise and finally decided to study the weak transmission lines in Maine. In his presentation on Friday, Nov. 8, at the University of Maine, he discussed how renewable energy in Maine would be problematic until the transmission lines were either replaced or improved with newer technology.

“At the beginning, I didn’t know I was going to research transmission lines. My initial topic was energy development in the state. After some initial thought and after some comments by the policy fellows, I decided to focus on a more specific topic. As I was researching, I found a lot of complaints about transmission, so I decided to do my topic on that,” Zarkadas said.

“The primary challenge was how to navigate through such a vast array of information and hone in on a specific topic,” Feinstein said. “Evan’s boundless enthusiasm had him reaching out in multiple directions. Each direction he investigated was accompanied by thorough research, so there was a lot of work there and much of it was so that we could understand which directions not to head in. Ultimately, he honed in on a singular pertinent topic.”

Zarkadas was very passionate about his project and took the challenge in great strides. “Because of the extensive research in the topic and trying to learn all the details of it, I felt like an electrical engineering student,” Zarkadas said.

Zarkadas not only learned a great deal about renewable energy and power transmission, but also found it was an excellent opportunity for experience in research and to make new connections. He hopes to continue some of the research in the future.

Evan Zarkadas presenting at the University of Maine for the Maine Policy Scholarship program.

Shopping for Christmas Gifts Without Breaking Your Budget


Shopping for Christmas gifts does not have to break your budget this year.

One of the greatest gifts of Christmas is giving to those you love. Everyone would like to buy the most expensive gifts for their family and friends, but it can be too expensive for the average person. There are alternatives for gift giving during the holidays, without breaking your budget. A good gift does not always have to be about the number on the price tag. There is a good chance that your friend will enjoy a gift with more sentimental value than an expensive gift. Gift giving does not always have to be stressful. There are many methods and strategies that you can follow this holiday season. If you follow these next steps and ideas, you could end up saving money and possibly have fun while doing it.

There are some simple methods that can be helpful to shoppers before they even hit the stores. Budgeting, shopping early and combining your shopping can be beneficial. Before you shop, budget your money and set a plan for your purchases so that you know exactly what you will be spending. Go Christmas shopping before everyone else. Get your shopping done early so that you can sit back and relax during December. Instead of shopping at multiple places, make all your purchases in one place so that you can save the money toward store taxes and car gas.

“If I am on a budget when I am Christmas shopping, I like to make as many gifts as I can because I feel like it is more meaningful when you put your time into the gift,” UMPI freshman Emily Blauvet said. “I love shopping for my friends and family. That is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I love watching my loved ones open gifts that I get them. I think Christmas is being with your family and friends and celebrating being together because people often overlook what and who they have in their life.”

Electronics and clothes can be great gifts, but inexpensive items can also show someone how much you care. Handwritten notes or customizable items can be great gifts. Shopping at discount stores such as Marden’s or the Dollar Tree can help. Saving money could also mean buying more gifts for the people who otherwise would not make the list.

The Dollar Tree is a perfect place to get smaller items that can be brought together. The store sells candy, decorations, winter gloves, mugs and more. It also sells Christmas cards and crafts that can be signed or customized to create a sentimental feel. A gift is a gift, it does not matter the size. By giving gifts to people, you are telling them how much you care, despite the size of the gift.

Christmas is about the time you share with family and friends. Exchanging gifts is just another small aspect of the day. Shopping for gifts and receiving them is fun, although there is much more to the day than what is under the tree.

“I love shopping for my friends and family for Christmas. I’m not a big fan of shopping, but I like to think of the smile my friends and family will have when they open their gifts,” UMPI freshman Halle Garner said. “Christmas is all about being with your family. It doesn’t matter what you eat or what presents you get, as long as the holidays are spent with loved ones–period.”

The holiday season is about spending time with the ones you love. Gift-giving is just another aspect to Christmas that everyone cherishes. While shopping for gifts can be exciting, it is important to remember the people whom you spend Christmas with. After all, giving is a much better feeling than receiving.

In Search of Real Chinese Food

I believe many American students in our school have eaten Chinese food. But you know what? Most Chinese food in the United States is not authentic Chinese food.  The food here is often adapted to local tastes. For example, it’s sweeter and less spicy than real Chinese food. Now I will introduce some real Chinese food culture.

It is not easy to give a brief description of the civilization of Chinese food in a short message. That is because there are more than 56 distinct population groups inside mainland China, and the large area causes different dining habits among the different districts.

First of all, we need to know that the old China was developed in a farming society and most of the dining habits and meals culture are based on this factor. Chinese are used to having their dinner together with all the family members, sitting around a table and all people will have one set of dining tools in front of them, including two bowls–one for rice and another for soup–one pair of chopsticks and one plate for meat/vegetables. They will share the food dishes that were made and put into the center of the table. Diners will only pick up the food from the dishes they want to eat. They will pick it up and place it onto the small plate in front of them.

There are two special habits. One is, Chinese diners never pick up rice from the bowl but will hold the bowl toward their lips, then poke the rice into their mouths with chopsticks. The other one is, Chinese always have soup during or after dining.

You can distinguish the style of cuisine by region. There are so many traditional and special Chinese foods, according to the folk culture, district, religion and festival. For the famous classes divided by district, there are styles of Guangdong, Beijing, Shanghai, Sichuan, Northwest and so on. Or the food can be distinguished by folk culture. There are Kajia, Yunan, Fujian, etc. These all above mentioned styles are well-known worldwide.

We can divide the farming products of the main food in China into three styles. Those are Rice in southern and eastern China, Wheat in northern China and Sweet Corn in middle, northern and western China. Because of their farming products, the people living in southern China will have rice, congee or rice noodles as their main food. In northern Chinese people will have wheat-made products such as buns, noodles and pancakes. Of course, people can have any food that they want nowadays.

Climate also affects taste. There is a big difference about the diets between northern and southern China, that is, the dishes made by northern chefs are heavier in taste than those that are comparably light in southern chefs’ recipes. Sometimes we say it is tasty as sweet and fresh southern Chinese food. In the northern and western provinces of China, such as Lingxia, Hebei, Sichuan, Shenxi and Yunnan, the diets are made hot and spicy, because of the humid, cold weather and high altitude. Chinese people believe that to perspire is a good method for preventing diseases caused by humidity and cold.

Are you more interested in Chinese food after reading this article? We welcome you to China to taste the delicious food!

Chinese cuisine dinner icon with rice, baked fish with vegetable, noodle, daikon, cabbage salads, shrimp spring roll, soups with chicken, rice, beef, fish, beef tongue, squid ring, cucumber with pork.

University Stress

College is an exciting transition from high school to college.  But a majority of students may find it difficult to handle the pressures and the demands.  Many factors may lead to students developing stress over the course of their academic careers.  Some of these factors include academic pressure, financial obligations, family and friends, and finding time for self-care.

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension.  It can come from events or thoughts that make you frustrated, angry or nervous.  Stress is a natural reflex that can be positive in some situations, such as getting out of danger or meeting a deadline.  When it is prolonged, however, it can cause symptoms that can cause trouble in your life.

Stress causes many physical and psychological symptoms and often leads to procrastination. Physical symptoms of stress include headaches, muscle tension, chest pain, fatigue, changes in sex drive, upset stomach and issues with sleep.  Psychological symptoms of stress include anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation/focus, feeling overwhelmed, irritability and sadness/depression. These symptoms sometimes give way to certain behaviors, including overeating/under eating, angry outbursts, drug/alcohol misuse, tobacco use, social withdrawal and getting less physical activity.

In a research study, students reported that stress and stress-related factors are actively affecting their academic performance.  Approximately 32 percent of surveyed students stated that they were suffering academically due to stress.  The percentage of college students who seek counseling has increased by 30 percent from 2010 to 2015.  Out of these students, 45 percent of them report stress as their reason for seeking counseling services.

Activities such as social clubs, special interest groups and sports may lead to friendships and help ease feelings of loneliness in the first few months of college.  A surefire way to manage stress from leaving home to attend college is to go home from time to time.  A healthy diet is a crucial aspect of leaving home and beginning college successfully.  Sleep is also crucial at improving and maintain high performance in an academic setting, plus it naturally helps alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety.  Try to engage in some sort of exercise that you enjoy on a regular basis.  Physical health can help alleviate mental health struggles that you may be experiencing.  Creating a budget can lower financial stress. The local financial departments on college campuses have the tools and resources to help students who may be struggling with this responsibility.

Some students at UMPI shared their own strategies for relieving stress.  Kelley McNary said, “I personally do something that requires a lot of physical effort, like work out at the gym. It’s even better when there are other people participating in the physical activity, like at my martial arts class. It allows me to feel productive and reduce stress.”

“I tend to listen to music a lot or watch Netflix. Something to take my mind off things for a while,” Erica Slomienski said.

It is important to stay positive as a college student. Whether it’s from moving away from home for the first time, financial issues and/or academic pressures, develop techniques to cope when stress begins to invade to reduce any negative feelings. Keeping a positive outlook increases well-being and lowers feelings such as depression and anxiety.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by feelings of stress, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional.

On campus, we have counselor Ralph McPherson who is available to help students. He can be reached by phone at (207) 768-9791 or by email at

Student Support Services can be reached at (207) 768-9732 or

Crisis and Counseling Centers Crisis line (local) is also available 24/7 at 1-888-568-1112.

There are also local psychiatric and counseling facilities available in Presque Isle, including the following:

  • County Behavioral Medicine (207) 554-2600.
  • The Northern Lighthouse Inc. (207) 540-1522.
  • Central Aroostook Psychiatric Services (207) 764-9700.

Presque Isle Loop Brings Much-Needed Transportation to the City


Don Sawyer assists Dr. J off the Presque Isle Loop.

The city of Presque Isle has a new form of transportation available to its residents. The Presque Isle Loop, an innovative metro-style bus, is now traveling through the city, making it the first fixed bus route in Presque Isle. The Loop has 16 stops through town and is affordable for anyone looking for a ride. The bus, which started on Oct. 15, was formed by the Going Places Network in collaboration between multiple agencies and organizations throughout Aroostook County.

The bus is operated by the Aroostook Regional Transportation System and it seats up to 36 passengers. The bus is also accessible to all who may have a disability. The bus features free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and spacious seats.

The bus will give access to a variety of Presque Isle residents who may need transportation. From college students to the elderly, the bus will give new opportunities to people who did not have it before. Many students at UMPI or NMCC do not have cars or a means of transportation. The Presque Loop is a new resource for them. Older citizens of the city who can not drive on their own will now be able to travel. People who work around town will now be able to use the bus. If people without a car would like to make a trip to Walmart, they can now do that through the bus.

Don Sawyer, a bus driver for the Loop, spoke about its recent success. “On a good day, we get about 25 people,” Sawyer said. “I used to drive buses for the schools. This is a lot better than having 50 screaming kids behind you,” Sawyer laughed. The most popular stop for the Loop is Walmart. He also mentioned that a stop at Walmart gives people more than an hour to shop before the bus comes back, which is plenty of time to get what you need.

The first two weeks of the Presque Isle Loop in October were free to all riders. Since then, ticket prices are $1.75 for one way and $3.50 for a roundtrip. Children under the age of 5 ride the bus for free with a parent or guardian. Discounted fares are available to people ages 18 years and under or 60 years and older. Military Veterans and their spouses with ID will be offered a discount as well as people with mobility disabilities. Passengers will also have the option to purchase a GoPass with unlimited rides. This pass can either consist of a week for $18 or a month for $72.

The start of the Presque Isle Loop begins at UMPI by the Campus Center circle, then heading to the Plaza on Main Street near Big Cheese Pizza. The next stops are at Academy Street, the Presque Isle Nursing Home and Griffin Street. The bus makes several more stops through town including the Aroostook Centre Mall, Walmart, the Micmac Health Center, NMCC and more. On average, the bus stops at each location every 70 minutes.

UMPI professor Jacqui Lowman, a wheelchair user, had no trouble getting on the bus. “I thought it was amazing. I was so impressed. I thought the bus would be nice, but I had no idea that is would be that nice. It was very warm, and it had a great view out the window,” Lowman said. “There are many people who need to go to appointments or need to get to work and they do not have a vehicle. We’ve needed this for a long time. It is very affordable, and I think it is just going to keep building.”

The Presque Isle Loop has been a success since its opening in October and it is bound to continue its growth. This bus allows the city of Presque Isle to become more innovative and helpful to its citizens. It gives its community members a means of transportation in a city that has never had it before. The bus is another example of the steps Presque Isle is taking to improve the lives of its citizens. When people ride the Loop, they are not only helping themselves, but also their city. The Loop gives citizens a safe and convenient ride across town or wherever they may need to go in the future.



Good Times at the Snowy Owl Marketplace


People shop in Gentile Hall during the Snowy Owl Marketplace.

On Sept. 28, the University of Maine at Presque Isle hosted the Snowy Owl Marketplace as part of its Homecoming Weekend. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Gentile Hall was filled with a variety of vendors and tables. Students and community members packed the gym in order to see what they could get their hands on during that Saturday.

Many university clubs and sport teams participated in the event, hoping to raise money for their program or organizations. The International Students club sold potatoes and noodles. The Bio-Med Club sold cookies. The History Club sold a variety of coffees. The Criminal Justice Club had lots of success by selling Krispy Kreme Donuts. University Times sold fruit cups, drinks and macaroni and cheese. The baseball team ran a concession stand, selling popcorn, candy, hotdogs, drinks and more. The softball team sold baked goods and coffee.

A diverse assortment of vendors from outside of campus also attended. Many arts and crafts tables were out on display. Another booth had soaps, lotions and bath bombs for sale. Many vendors had autumn and Halloween decorations. Jewelry, blankets and even flavored marshmallows were also sold during the marketplace.

Danielle Pelkey and Laurie Boucher, both employees in the UMPI student financial services office, ran a vendor booth at the marketplace. The pair sold customized crafts and gifts. “I think the Snowy Owl Marketplace went really well. There was a lot of participation from local crafters, artisans, vendors and student organizations/clubs. There’s already brainstorming taking place for next year to make it even better. It was nice having it located at Gentile Hall where the weather didn’t affect the set up and more individuals were able to take part in,” Danielle Pelkey said. “We will definitely be participating again in the future. It was a great way to showcase our homemade and customized items for upcoming holidays.”

The year’s Snowy Owl Marketplace was different from the others held in the previous years. In past years, the marketplace was called the block party. The term Snowy Owl Marketplace is now its new and improved name. The past events were also always held outside at the tennis courts. Due to the weather, Homecoming organizers decided to change the location. A Car Show was held outside of Gentile, which brought in some visitors to the event. UMPI’s men’s and women’s soccer teams also competed in games during the time of the marketplace, bringing in more people.

“I had a great time. I really enjoyed coming out with friends and looking at arts and crafts, jewelry, artwork and homemade baked goods vendors had to offer. It also was very affordable, which gave me a lot to choose from. Even with being indoors, it didn’t take away from the whole marketplace feel. Going to the Snowy Owl Marketplace is something I definitely would do again,” UMPI sophomore Savannah Borland said.

This year’s Snowy Owl Marketplace brought hundreds of UMPI students, staff and community members together for a special day that will be looked forward to during next year’s Homecoming weekend.

An Instant Classic

This year’s Homecoming was a success thanks to community members, alumni and students too.  The car show was no exception.  Participants brought classic rides from as far south as Patten, with vehicles dating back to the 1930s.  From original owners to grandpa’s ride, all owners took great pride in their rides.

Cordell Smith brought his 1967 Chevrolet Impala SS, popularized by the television series, “Supernatural.”  This Impala never made the big screen, but its story is just as interesting.

“My grandfather had a bunch of old cars.  Before he died a couple years ago, he made sure to give this one to me,” Cordell said. “At least, when I turn 25 technically.  For now, it’s at my grandma’s house and I can work on it when I visit.”  Cordell is only 15 years old but did admit, “She lets me drive it in the yard if I mow her lawn.”

Joe Grant and his wife drove their 1966 Plymouth Belvedere II all the way from Patten to be in the car show.  Joe feels that the beauty of old cars won’t be matched ever again.  That’s why he brought his Plymouth to car shows all summer long.  Even the rain couldn’t stop the Grants.  Joe joked about the free cleaning.  “It’s been babied since I’ve owned it.  The wife and I very seldom take it out in the rain.  But hey, you gotta wash ‘em sometime, right?”

Mike Marshall drove his 1954 GMC work truck to the Homecoming celebration.  This was his truck’s first ever appearance at a car show.  The rare, five-window truck has survived a lifetime of work and Mike still uses it regularly.  “I probably use it like a truck more than a toy,” he said about the old GMC. “But that’s nothing compared to what they used it for originally.  I got it from a paper mill in Portland.  Guys would stand on the hood in a warehouse and as they went down the rows, they’d work off it.  I had to put a whole new hood on it because the old one was all shoved in,” Mike said.

Every car has a story, the same as people.  The survivors, like the old work truck or grandfather’s hotrod, are the stories worth sharing.  This is why it’s so important for these car shows to continue: to trade stories and history.  Each dent, scratch or rust bubble tells its own tale.  Homecoming is much like an alumni car show.  The “collectors” group and share history, stories and tricks of the trade.  Only, they leak a lot less.

Aroostook County Brew and Wine Festival: A Hope for the Future

The logo of the festival.

On Saturday, Oct. 5, beer and wine lovers from all over Aroostook County and beyond gathered at the Aroostook County Brew and Wine Festival at the Aroostook Shrine Club on Houlton Road for a beautiful afternoon full of delicious local beer, wine and food.

The festival was established in 2015 by the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce with the purpose of showcasing the growing craft beer and wine industry in Maine.

Destiny Wetherell, an UMPI student, shared her festival experience.

“The atmosphere was really great and the different types of beer and wine were fantastic. It was great seeing that many local beer and wine vendors here in the County and I am very glad I got to try and support our local crafts.”

The brewfest was the event of the month, attracting a lot of people from all over the county, including some of our local politicians, entrepreneurs and local community leaders. The lines to enter the event extended beyond the gate all the way to the parking lot.  People floated around, trying all the different beer varieties in the tent, trying some of the gigantic hot dogs and barbecue that was available and overall enjoying the clear and sunny Aroostook sky.

Tiffany Smith, another UMPI student who attended the festival, said:

“It was a really nice community event that brought a lot of people together. It was a very happy environment with a lot of friendly faces.”

Events like these are a clear indication of a growing industry here in Maine.  With the support from our communities we can all elevate and encourage these businesses and support the local faces behind all the hard work and the products that we see. The deeper message behind the brewfest–beyond the love for beer–is community support of our local brewing and wine-making industries. The growing development of this festival is a great indication for a very hopeful future supporting local industries and local products. Andbrew and Wine  at the same time for us consumers, it is a great sign of more delicious products available for us here in the County.



LDLS Speaker Captures His Audience at First Lecture of 2019-2020 Academic Year

Dr. Van Alst Jr. giving his lecture entitled Matters of Place.

On Sept. 26, 2019, the University of Maine at Presque Isle welcomed LDLS speaker Dr. Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr. After a brief but heartwarming welcome from President Rice, Alst took the stage. Delivering a talk entitled “Matters of Place,” Alst captured his audience’s attention with humor and his apparent passion for writing.

Alst graduated from UMPI in 2004 with a bachelors in behavioral science.  He shared how he found his way to UMPI. “I’m from away,” he said. “But both of my kids were born here. They were both born at TAMC.  It was pretty cool.” After his children were born, Alst was working for a local mill when he decided to begin classes at UMPI. “I found a cool program and they sent me to UMPI and paid for my first semester,” Alst said. “They were like ‘you have to get new clothes, though.  You can’t dress like that.” He went on to share a story of how he received a voucher to go buy new clothes and wound up buying more of the same clothes he had before.

Reminiscing about his days at UMPI and the classes he took with then Dr. Rice, Alst shared how he found his interest in writing. “Editing is actually a joy,” he joked. “The next tattoos I get are going to be the proofreader symbols.” Giving further advice on the importance of editing, Alst touched upon writing for an audience. “You have to tell them everything that you want them to know,” he said. “You’re not there reading along, pointing out this mistake or that one. You know, like when you’re trying to impress your significant other by playing guitar and you go ‘Oh wait, oh wait, oh wait’? You can’t do that.”

Kylee Mejia, a first-year student at UMPI, found her first LDLS to be more interesting than she thought it would be. “I wasn’t sure if I would find interest in the lecture,” Mejia said. “But then when Dr. Alst began cracking jokes, I got more into it. He made listening to him talk enjoyable, like I wasn’t at a distinguished lecture.” Mejia shared that her experience attending the lecture made her interested to attend more in the future.

To conclude, Alst shared three readings from his latest novel “Sacred Smokes.” His truly inspiring but deeply emotional stories really captured the attention of his audience at UMPI. If you are interested in reading about him further or purchasing his work, Alst’s latest novel can be found for sale on Amazon,

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Show your support of breast cancer awareness this month.  Don’t forget to

wear Pink during the month of October.

Students, always remember that my fitness classes are FREE!  Fit Camp is Monday,

Wednesday and Friday from 5-5:45 p.m.  Tuesdays I have Total Body Circuit Training from

12-12:45 p.m.  Fusion Training is on Mondays and Thursdays from 12-12:45 p.m. in the

Campus Center, room 112.

Intramurals are a great way to stay active and meet new people.  Basketball will be going

on for the fall semester on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6-10 p.m.  Soccer will start

during the month of November.  If any students are interested in playing intramurals, you can

contact Jonathon Bowman for more details at

This is the best time of year to enjoy hiking with all of the wonderful colors.  Get outside

and enjoy hiking Haystack Mountain in Mapleton, Aroostook State Park in Presque Isle with

some excellent trails and Big Rock Mountain in Mars Hill.  Come see us for tents, sleeping

bags and backpacks for an overnight hiking trip.  We also have canoes and kayaks to rent!

Fall is the best time for fresh apples and pumpkins!  Check out our local school farm

on State Street in Presque Isle.  They have a variety of delicious apples to choose from, fresh

apple cider, wonderful vegetables, sweet homemade jams and pumpkins.

Diet and exercise are so important to keep our bodies healthy and strong.  Here is a

healthy applesauce recipe that you and your kids will love!


Fresh School Farm Apples of your choice:

5-6 cups of Apples cut, peeled and sliced into a pot.

½ cup to 1 cup of water

Bring apples to a boil and cook until apples are soft and mushy.

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Optional if you like cinnamon.

1 teaspoon of sugar

Optional if you like it sweeter (most apples are sweet enough that you won’t need the sugar).

Let it cool and refrigerate.  So good!

You can make a double or triple batch and store in containers and freeze them.