Sammie’s Tattoo Studio

     Tattooing has been a part of humanity’s culture for thousands of years. This art is something you have on your body for the rest of your life. This is true whether it’s an intricate piece that takes months of planning and multiple sessions or a last minute simple tattoo that you get because you only live once. You will want a trustworthy and talented tattoo artist on the other side of that tattoo gun. Sammie Carmen is just the artist you’ve been looking for. 

     Sammie attended a tattoo school in New York after high school. After getting her tattooing license, Sammie opened up her shop in Houlton, her hometown. She rented a small room at a hair salon for about six months before finding a larger space that she stayed at for about five years. She is now at her current location, 52 Market Square, Suite #6, Houlton, Maine, where she has been located for over six years. You can find Sammie and her shop on Facebook and Instagram at Sammie’s Tattoo Studio. 

Black and Gray Dog Portrait by Sammie Carmen.

     When you walk into her shop, you can see her artwork covering the walls and filling the whole room with a magical atmosphere. Sammie’s style is unique to her as an artist. 

     Sammie said, “I really feel like it’s been the last few years. Because I’ve always just done whatever people wanted. The last few years I’ve been really pushing to like, even if they didn’t ask for it, I’m like yo, let me do this in my style a little bit if that’s cool. Or know where I’m so busy I can choose who and what I’m tattooing a little bit more. So I really push toward something that’s more in my realm or style these days. Same with the pre-draws. I’ve been pushing them really hard the last few years too. Just because it’s totally my own artwork. And yeah, I feel like that helps me develop my own style a little bit more.”

The church is a place of prayer and hope. Or it is supposed to be. The faith of four dedicated journalists is shaken when they come across the biggest story of the year: priests in Boston are molesting children. Once the journalists begin investigating, the numbers are astonishing. As it turns out, there are not just a small number of priests involved–there are nearly a hundred! Sacha Pfeiffer stops attending mass services with her Nana. Matt Carroll struggles when he realizes a makeshift rehabilitation house formulated by the church for abusive priests is just down the street from his home. Robby realizes he has had his hands on this story all along. Watch as these reporters break the code of silence developed by the Catholic Church in Boston and reveal the real-life horror of priests abusing their most vulnerable followers. If they cannot publish the story, who is going to help? How else is this going to stop? Back in 2002, prior to the Boston Globe’s probing investigation into the abuse that was transpiring in the Catholic Church, there was very little talk around even the possibility of such acts occurring. The church was considered one of the most powerful entities in the lives of its followers. Making an accusation of abuse held the potential to uproot the lives of those affected. Within church walls, many of the churches had facilitated their own means of resolution to such scenarios by drawing up agreements outside of the court system. This resulted in the makeshift rehabilitation for abusive priests such as the one not far from Matt Carroll’s home. This resolution kept the abuse an inside secret, placing a gag order on the abused and their families, while allowing the priests to continue their lives without being subject to a court hearing. The beginning of this huge societal shakedown began when Sacha Pfeiffer, Matt Carrol, Walter Robinson, Michael Rezendes, Marty Baron and Ben Bradlee Jr. took a strong stance against the ongoing abuse. Taking on this confrontation with the church posed a huge risk to the reporters and the newspaper. The Catholic Church in Boston at the time was known to have a strong political influence and was able to place pressure on entities such as the Boston Globe. Pursuing such a controversial story posed a risk to the credibility of the paper and the employment of the reporters. Providing solid documentation played a key piece in being able to continue pursuing the story. Exposing a huge societal flaw, however, provided the opportunity to ensure changes were implemented to prevent further abusers from being able to manipulate these victims. Despite the risks, publishing the story of the Catholic Church’s abuse allowed the reporters a sense of civic duty, as they were able to educate the public on the inner workings of a major coverup and allow some closure for the victims. Down the line, the team received a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize.

     The film “Spotlight” is the retelling of the true story of how Spotlight, an investigative journalism team for the Boston Globe, covered and wrote the story of the multiple priests abusing children throughout the years in Boston and how the church was covering it up. The film starts in 2001 before 911, but it goes back many years. Robby Robinson, Sacha Pfeiffer, Mike Rezendes, and Matt Carrol are the members of the Spotlight team who are covering the story. Through hardship and struggle, the team would stop at nothing to investigate and bring the wrongdoings of the church into the spotlight.

     The story starts when the Boston Globe received a new managing editor by the name of Marty Baron. He sees the story and puts Spotlight on the case. Their stories usually take multiple months up to years to investigate and write. These journalists gave up time, family relations, and their own well-being to write this story. As they investigate the story, the entire team had to keep it a complete secret, even to the rest of the Globe. No matter if the information could help people around them, they have to keep it top-secret until they can get the story out so that no leaks would happen. 

    One of the first scenes is a reenactment of what sets off this powder keg of a story. A mother reports her two boys being molested by a priest but is pushed into keeping it between them and the church. The scene is very important since it gives us a description of how the church silenced these reports. Marty Baron, the new managing editor of the Boston Globe walks into the story. When Robby Robinson, the editor for Spotlight, didn’t see many features for the story, Baron decided to push it more and put the Spotlight team on the case. 

     The next steps for the Spotlight team were to file a motion to get sensitive documents available to the public. These documents would be essential keys to this story. They provided conclusive evidence of the fact that the church was sweeping these incidents and the molesting of children under the rug. Down the story, almost every single person the team members went to for information or clearance tried to turn them away from the story. They would say that they should keep this between themselves or that it wasn’t a big deal. The story was so filled with the restrictions and the struggle to get information. Even so, the Spotlight team continued. Next, the team talked to a man by the name of Phil Saviano. Phil was the first survivor that the team talked to in person. He was a part of an organization called SNAP that was a support organization for the survivors of priest molestation. He told them his story and advised the team to seek out and talk to Richard Sipe. Richard Sipe was an ex-priest who married a nun and became a psychotherapist and author of six books about Catholicism. 

     Richard Sipe helped the Spotlight team members discover that there were over 90 priests in Boston abusing and molesting children, instead of the 13 they had suspected originally. The team starts to get more enemies and attract more tension as the story heats up. Just as the team is about to get the restricted documents that could make this story, 9/11 happened. The story was put aside so that all reporters could cover 9/11 for the next few weeks. The team picked it back up again when the important documents were finally released to the public. The team hurried to get the documents and finish the story before any other paper could. The documents ended up having multiple letters and verifications that high ranking clergy were hiding the fact that they knew about these crimes.

     Baron told the team members that they couldn’t stop the story at just a few priests. They had to prove that this went through the whole church and to write the story about how deep those roots went. The team kept up their investigation, getting evidence that each of these 90 or so priests did these acts and that high-ranking officials of the Catholic Church were hiding it and putting these priests back into new churches. With this information found and the evidence from the documents, the story would be released after New Year’s. When the story came out, it gave hundreds of survivors the courage to call Spotlight and tell them their own stories and how they were abused. The Spotlight’s room of operation filled with the phone calls of survivors calling in. 

     In this movie, people learn and see the harsh reality of these cases. Most to all of them were pushed under the rug. People never had the chance to tell their stories. The Spotlight team members themselves may have lost things while pursuing the story. They may have lost friendships, faith, and relationships with their families.  But they gained a lot from it. The team members got the satisfaction and knowledge that they brought wrongdoers to justice. Even though it should have been done sooner, the team members had finally brought the wrongdoings of the church into the spotlight and helped many survivors get closure as well as prevented many more children from experiencing the same fate. 

The Pulitzer Photographs: Bringing Readers Into a Moment

     The Pulitzer Prizes are awards given by Columbia University to outstanding journalists, writers or musicians. To win a Pulitzer is an outstanding achievement. In this video, “A Glimpse of Life: The Pulitzer Photographs,” we see many outstanding and inspiring photos journalists have taken over the decades: from the flag raising in Iwo Jima in 1945 to the twin towers on fire and crumbling in 2001. What exactly makes a photograph Pulitzer worthy? Well, with these next photos, you’ll see through five decades that Pulitzer photographs truly tell an amazing story. 

     Let’s start with the 1950s, and “Parade,” photographed by William Beall and published by the Washington Daily News in 1958. This photo truly embodies the Pulitzer with how beautiful it is. The pure joy from the small boy looking up at the officer just brings a smile to your face. That’s one thing that a Pulitzer should do: make the reader feel an emotion, whether it’s good or bad.

     The next Pulitzer photograph, “Saigon Execution,” was taken by Eddie Adams in 1969. “We see them pulling a guy right through the door of the building: a prisoner. As a photographer, as a newsman, somebody gets a prisoner so you photograph that prisoner until he’s out of sight. All of the sudden to my left, somebody came out of nowhere and I see him go for his pistol and as soon as he raised his pistol, as soon as he brought it up, I took the picture. And I thought absolutely nothing of it. And then I went to lunch. So what, it was a war. I’m being serious, that’s how I felt.” 

“Saigon Execution”.

‘All the President’s Men’ Sneak Peek

     “All the President’s Men is the true story of two young reporters from the Washington Post and their quest to find the truth. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were like oil and water. Even so, they were tasked to work together on a story that few had any faith in. Once rivals and now partners, these two reporters had to follow a dangerous trail to discover the truth of what lay under Washington’s dirty laundry. Is this a minor story with no hope or is this the biggest scandal of the century?

     We start with a failed burglary at the Watergate complex: the Democratic National Committee headquarters. The burglary starts in almost total darkness. The burglars seemed messy and ill prepared. Leaving lights on and talking loudly through walkie-talkies, they were bound to be caught. These five men were taken into custody after this failed attempt. 

Scene from All the President’s Men.

     After the incident, Bob Woodward is asked to cover the case. He goes to the burglars’ arraignment to gather information. He discovers that the burglars are Bernard Barker, James W. McCord and three other men. Bob finds out that the men have a private attorney named Mr. Starkey. This attorney is very expensive and was also obtained without any of the men contacting him. They hadn’t even made any calls since they got arrested. This strikes a chord with Bob, making him think that there’s possibly more to this case than meets the eye. Around this time, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are teamed up to work on this case together.

     Bob continued to investigate the situation. He called anyone he could to get more information. Just as all hope seems lost, Bob got a call from another Post journalist that in two of the burglars address books there was the name of “Howard Hunt” and a “W House.” Did W House stand for the White House and who was this Howard Hunt? Looking into Howard Hunt more, Woodward and Bernstein split up to do some of their own investigating. 

     Back on the case, Woodstein hit some leads. Bob discovered that Howard Hunt was a former CIA member from 1949 to 1970 and that he was investigating Ted Kennedy. Bernstein has a conversation with a librarian asking for any books and information that Hunt took out about Kennedy. She seems to know what he is talking about and goes to get that information for him. Moments later she denies even knowing who Howard Hunt is. This leads the two men on a hunt to know why this librarian is lying. After Executive Editor Ben Bradlee rejects the story from the front page for lack of cold, hard evidence, the men are back to look for more concrete proof. 

Spring in Bloom at Cook Florist

     The official start of spring was on March 20th. Even though the weather has been warm and sunny and the snow is melting away, most of Aroostook County’s citizens still haven’t felt the spring spirit. Well, look no further than your local florist shop, Cook Florist! Even though the snow is still slushy and the sky still gray, Cook Florist has the spring pick-me-up you’ve been needing these past winter months. 

     The shop is owned by Karen Duncan and managed by her daughter Megan Allen. Karen is a third-generation floral designer, while Megan is a fourth-generation floral designer. The mother and daughter duo, along with a few staff members, have been diligently working under COVID regulations for the past year or so, from wearing their masks to making sure everything is clean and sanitary for the customers. Cook Florist is the perfect place to get a lovely floral arrangement for yourself or a loved one you haven’t seen in a while. 

     Karen said, “I grew up in the florist world. My grandparents Sid and Edna Cook started Cook Florist in 1943. My parents carried on the tradition. I always said I would never become a florist. My parents worked seven days a week and I did not want that. In 1983, I found myself unemployed with rent due, so I begged my mother for a job. Turns out I loved the work and was good at it.” Megan had a slightly different path toward becoming a florist. She said, “I became a florist to continue the family business when I realized I wanted to stay in Presque Isle after high school.” After both mother and daughter decided to become florists, they went to get certified for the job. 

     “I learned a lot of design from my co-workers and my mom. But I wanted more. I attend many professional florist shows. Maine State Florists and Growers Association offered certification classes in a program titled ‘Professional Certified Florist.’ I did earn that,” Karen said.

     Karen also got certified through a harder  program called “Maine Master Floral Designer.” Karen said, “Earning that title makes me want to excel with each design.” 

     Megan also got certified through the “Maine Master Floral Designer” program.

    Spring is one of the busiest times of year for Cook Florist. From Easter to Mother’s Day, the shop is bustling with customers and flowers. Even though the shop hasn’t gotten a lot of wedding and party orders, they are still busy with orders. Not even a global pandemic can stop people from enjoying some cheerful flowers and well-crafted dish gardens. 

     What can you expect to find at Cook’s? Well, now that the weather is warming up and the snow is melting, you can find a large variety of planted hydrangeas, bulb plants such as tulips and hyacinths, mixed bulb plants and calla lilies. You can also find many well-crafted spring arrangements, from lovely roses and mixed colored tulips to bright Gerber daisies and beautiful irises. Cook Florist also has many Easter designs ready in their cooler. If blooming arrangements and plants aren’t your style, Cook’s has a wide variety of dish gardens full of perfect indoor plants and large potted plants that can fill any room with beautiful greens to brighten up your winter blues. They even carry a variety of hanging plants if you have an animal that likes to munch on your house plants. 

     If fresh flowers and plants give you allergies, have no fear for Cook Florist has you covered. At the moment, Cook Florist has a wide variety of silk and permanent arrangements to decorate your home. You can choose bright picnic baskets with colorful flowers and cheerful birds or beautiful wall hangings for your home. The possibilities are endless at Cook Florist. If you don’t have a green thumb and you’re not a huge fan of bright and cheerful permanent arrangements, you can come and check out Cook’s new fake succulent desk arrangements. These fake succulent arrangements will brighten up any dreary office and are perfect for a small desk or shelf. No sunlight or water is needed! 

    Being a florist is hard work but also comes with great rewards. “My Favorite thing about being a florist is the variety of jobs I do every day. I can go in and design flowers, work with plants and dirt, sit down with the bride and design her perfect day or deliver flowers to a customer. It is never boring,” Karen said. 

     Even though the work is fun, it can also be  hard at times for a designer. “I love this job and my work. It is not always easy. I have sat down with families that have lost a loved one under the worst circumstances. But I want to be there to help. I work at a job I love and I am very lucky to do so.”

     If you’d like to check out Cook Florist to buy something or just explore, the store is located at 174 Main St., Presque Isle, Maine 04769. If you have no time to visit the shop, then you can call their number at (207)769-2731 and order an arrangement of your choosing. For more information and to be able to see what they sell, you can also visit their website,


UMPI’s Very Own Secret Society

    For all of those Riverdale junkies, mystery fanatics and elite conspiracy theorists out there, have no fear for I have the inside scoop on UMPI’s very own secret society. Have you ever wondered who’s behind the scenes at the University of Maine in Presque Isle? Who holds all the secrets and mysteries of your beloved college? Well, today’s your lucky day! Before I can get into the details of this Secret Society, we have to look back to the past so that we can look forward to where this mystery organization is today. 

     The college was founded in 1903 and back then was referred to as the Aroostook State Normal School. From the 1890s to the early 1900s, the residents of Presque Isle were working toward creating the post-secondary school. Over the years, the university has changed its name four times. In 1952 it was called the Aroostook State Teachers College. In 1965, it was the Aroostook State College. In 1968, it was named the Aroostook State College of the University of Maine. And last, in 1971, it was renamed what we proudly call it today:  the University of Maine at Presque Isle. But, something that not many know about is that the college’s very own secret society were members of that same community that pushed for the college’s creation, founding the college and controlling things behind the scenes. How could they do this and why? 

     Let’s take a step back and look into the mysterious Secret Society. The Secret Society came together a few years before the college was founded. In 1895 some local citizens decided that they needed to take matters into their own hands for creating a secondary school in Aroostook County. The records are slim and the names are almost all lost, but we still have some secondhand accounts of what happened during the first few years of the Secret Society’s creation.

     “My great grandpappy used to tell me stories about how he and his fellow Secret Society members made IBIS. He was always all serious like when talking about those days. Never really got into the finer details while still sharing the real fun stories,” retired dog walker, Annabel Cranberry, said. 

     “ I never really understood why they named it IBIS until they invented Google translate. Some even say that the college’s mascot was named after them. They were always a secret bunch of people. I guess that’s kind of in the name description if you know what I mean.” 

Love in a Pandemic

     When imagining the perfect Valentine’s with your hubby, stuffy masks, social distancing and ordering in usually don’t come to mind. This season of love was the first for most lovebirds to be celebrated in a pandemic. Eating out at a fancy restaurant, going on a romantic scavenger hunt or making a public declaration of love was not in the cards for the season’s hopeful lovebirds. Plans changed and new creative ways to show your love had to be created. Whether you’re in the throes of puppy love or your third year of a committed relationship,  Feb. 14th can be daunting for any couple, especially in a pandemic. 

     First year at UMPI, Rebekah Potrero, and her boyfriend, Marcus Daigle, celebrated this Valentine’s Day in the safety of their own home. Their love story began with a right swipe on Tinder and has been going strong for a little over six months. Rebekah is 19, while Marcus is 18. Rebekah’s opinion on Valentine’s Day is that it should be celebrated more than once a year. While Marcus was somewhat indifferent about the holiday, he still feels it should be celebrated. 

Marcus and Rebekah taking a Valentine’s Day selfie.

     With such a limited choice of COVID-safe dates and social-distanced romantic gestures, it was hard to make the holiday romantically memorable. Rebekah found it, “ Less (memorable) because we couldn’t do anything. Not as memorable as it could have been.” Marcus agreed. 

     The couple enjoyed the holiday by exchanging gifts, watching the Aladdin movies and some Gordan Ramsey shows, all while cuddling. Rebekah made Marcus a homemade gift, while Marcus got her a bouquet of flowers and some Valentine’s chocolates.