Rolling in the Dough: How UMPI Got the Largest Grant in School History

The university we all call home just got a little more help thanks to UMPI’s being selected to receive a grant worth almost $2.25 million.  The United States Department of Education made the announcement in early October that UMPI had been selected for a 2019 Title III Strengthening Institutions grant to be distributed over the next five years.

Serving as Title III Project Director, Dr. Deb Roark, UMPI executive director for university advancement and external affairs, was instrumental in UMPI’s attainment of the grant.  Dr. Roark mentioned the opportunities that the Department of Education selection brings to campus.  “We have an opportunity over these next five years to build and solidify UMPI’s reputation with respect to the student experience.”  More important to students, faculty and staff, Dr. Roark described the plan for the money’s use.  “These funds are dedicated to increasing access, improving the student experience and providing our students with the tools they need to successfully transition from the campus to their careers.”

In addition to career readiness programs, the grant allows UMPI to introduce two new bachelor’s degree programs in fields in which workers are in high-demand.  The two new majors–Computer Science and Health Administration–weave in smoothly with UMPI’s preexisting course offerings.  UMPI also is developing stronger career readiness programs and more opportunities for students to have on-site experience when they graduate.

President Ray Rice spoke to the significance of the new majors and readiness programs introduced in a campus press release: “The (new) programs here will help us to better meet the workforce needs of our region and state while providing our students with new avenues for prosperous careers…. (The new programs) will allow us to even better prepare out students for future careers.”

The grant allows UMPI to introduce another computer lab as well, as it will be needed for the new computer science major.  Renovations and updates in technology validate “U.S. News & World Report”’s 2020 Best Colleges list as a top 5 Most Innovative School for regional colleges in the North.  The chancellor of the University of Maine System, Dannel P. Malloy, spoke to the innovation offered at Maine’s universities.  “Student-focused innovation attracts investment and is one of the reasons why Maine’s public universities deliver unmatched quality and affordability.”

Receiving this grant brings only good for UMPI and its students.  Growth is what small universities such as UMPI need to survive.  Having a larger variety of majors and innovative technology will attract more students.  No matter what, $2.2 million is a lot of money that will all be used to help UMPI.

Preventing Winter Emergencies

Nobody is prepared for an emergency.  A person can, however, take preventative measures to minimize the dangers.  In an Aroostook winter, even a simple skid can turn into an emergency situation in an instant.  Heavy amounts of snow combined with temperatures well below freezing can trap unprepared motorists.  This article will inform people of five items to keep in their cars in the winter, and how each of the items could save their lives.  Though these steps can prepare motorists in the event of an emergency, telling someone else where you’re heading before you leave is the most effective.

The first item that should be in every Aroostook County vehicle is a blanket.  Whether the blanket is shoved in the trunk or folded in the back seat, a blanket ensures there will always be heat, and they use up little space.  When a motorist calls for a tow in the winter, it takes a lot longer for the tow truck to arrive, and when it does, the tow truck driver’s priority is the vehicle.  Waiting with the vehicle is always the smartest course of action, and without a blanket it could be a very long and very cold wait.  Waiting inside a vehicle trapped in the snow as it idles can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.  The passenger compartment will fill with carbon monoxide if the exhaust of the vehicle is plugged with snow.  For this reason, running the vehicle for heat may not be an option.  It’s best to have a blanket.

The next item is actually a few items: a warm hat, pair of gloves, and insulated and waterproof footwear.  Vehicles leave the roadway in winter, largely due to ice and limited visibility.  A short walk from where a car stopped back to the roadway is almost inevitable.  Without the proper clothing, people could find themselves treading through mid-January, waist-deep snow wearing gym-shorts or a crop top.  It takes seconds for snow to soak a pair of sneakers, and a North Face coat only can keep you so warm in -10*F wind chills.

See the pattern here?  Keeping warm is going to be the toughest challenge and risking carbon monoxide poisoning is too risky.  The third item all motorists should have in their winter kit is hand or foot warmers.  They are inexpensive and provide heat for hours.  Hopefully the tow truck arrives before then.  Hand or foot warmers are a cheap insurance policy that can protect a person from frostbite.  All they require is a simple snap with the hands and instantly the warmer makes heat.

All previously mentioned items are in the car.  The idea is that the vehicle went off the road and all occupants are safe and warm while waiting for help.  The next item that should be in all winter vehicles is an external battery for a cell phone.  External chargers are less than $20 and can charge a phone to full rather quickly.  Without a charged cell phone, calling for help is that much harder: some models of external chargers include a flashlight, too.  This would be a necessity at night.  Of course, most smartphones are equipped with a flashlight, so motorists making sure that puppy is charged should be a first priority.  Without a cell phone, there is no way stranded people can let friends or family know that help is needed.  Motorists could find themselves at the disposal of other people driving by.  This opens a whole new set of dangers.  It’s in the best interest of all motorists to charge their phones before they leave the house.  And don’t forget to keep the charged backup charger in the vehicle for emergency use.

The fifth and final item that every car in Aroostook County should contain is a set of booster cables.  Electricity and cold don’t mix well.  Even good cars will not start in the cold and having a set of booster cables, and a generous friend, can save a person a couple of tow-truck calls a season.  There are even mobile battery boosters that motorists can keep in their vehicles to independently boost their vehicles.

Whether people have 20 years of winter driving experience in Aroostook County or two months, they are almost equally likely to have an incident.  Ice knows no master and the best preventative measure you can take is using appropriate precautions before hitting the roadways.  Cars without snow tires are useless on Aroostook roads this time of year: staying in or finding a different way to travel is recommended.  If travel is unavoidable, travelers always should tell a trusted person of their destination.  Taking these precautions will help any motorist stay safe in an emergency situation.

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.

Leaving the Owls Nest

The tour group poses for a photo. In the background there is the National Mall and the Capitol Building.

Leaving the Owl’s Nest shares the story of a trip to Washington, D.C.  Brandy Smith, Tiffany Smith, Tong Liu and other UMPI Owls spread their wings and flew to the nation’s capital.  The trip was a spectacular, cultural immersion for both Chinese and Americans on the trip. Continue reading “Leaving the Owls Nest”

No One Is Above the Law

David versus Goliath, a Boston newspaper versus the institution of Catholicism: “Spotlight” is the story of a team of reporters.  The team members covered a story that affected the world.  They fought to oust the repeated accusations of molestation within the church.  Secrets buried, the accused protected, and thousands upon thousands of silenced victims are all stories that the Spotlight team made public. Continue reading “No One Is Above the Law”

Breaking Boards

Pat Karpen reads her piece, Breaking Boards.

A hushed crowd listens as Pat Karpen reads through the literary nonfiction story she’s been writing since the new year.  With her classmates, the group shares stories from their lives, emotionally telling stories that allow viewers to connect with the authors on a personal level.  “Literary nonfiction uses the tools and techniques from fiction and poetry to create stories,” Deborah Hodgkins, the group’s teacher and mentor, said. Continue reading “Breaking Boards”

The Sweetest School in the State

Potential design for the towering art project. The size is proportionate to the real sculpture.

University of Maine at Presque Isle art students are licking their lips in preparation for their newest project: a 50-foot lollipop sculpture.  The sculpture will replace the wind turbine that caught fire last year.

The project is projected to take 8-12 months of work to complete.  The size of the candy will be approximately 30 feet in diameter.  The frame of the sucker will be built using a steel frame, canvased with large—but thin–sheets of aluminum.  These wrap around the structure as if they were papier mâché. Continue reading “The Sweetest School in the State”

The One Hundred Club

The Original Sleeper_s Store founded by Joseph Sleeper. Sleeper_s today is in the same location.

Sea turtles, mighty redwoods and the lucky koi fish.  The list of 100-year-old survivors is not long.  Sleeper’s market in Caribou passed the century milestone in 2014.  It now looks very different from the first store, but the service and the values remain.

Rooted firmly on the corner of Route 1 and Lyndon Street, the small store has been a hub for generations.  Caribou looked much different one hundred years ago. Continue reading “The One Hundred Club”

Respect for the Fallen

The four retirees stand proudly around their comrade_s grave. From left to right_ Sgt. William Caron, Cpl. Arnold Gahagan, Trooper Kim Espling and Cpl. Bert Ouellette. Not seen, Troop F leader Brian Harris.

Just like he’s done thousands of times before, Hubert Ouellette laces up his boots.  The state police issued black leather is cracking, showing their wear.  He’s suited up for his job many times, but never for a task like this.

Temperatures circling zero degrees and waist-deep snow could not stop Maine State Police Troop F.  Four retired officers and one active dug out their snowshoes, an extra pair of socks and a few holiday wreaths.  Paying no attention to the cold, the group honored lost officers by visiting their graves for the holidays and leaving the wreaths behind. Continue reading “Respect for the Fallen”