UMF Beavers Show Off Their Talent

By Lakota Monzo, Contributing Writer

Recently, Lincoln Auditorium was packed with people eager to see what the UMF Spring Fling Committee had in store during the annual talent show.

The doorway to the auditorium was decorated with long strings of white squares that tangled people up as they tried to enter. Green balloons, held up by strings to the chairs floated around, each was painted with a black alien face. The bottom of the stage had multicolored flashing lights hanging off it. Everyone was talking very loudly to their neighbor in excitement anticipating what they were about to see.

The talent show is a way for all the students to show their talents to an accepting group of friends. The show is hosted by the Campus Residence Council.

Kayla Tremblay, head of Spring Fling said, “it is definitely a group effort setting up for the talent show.”

This is her third year on the Spring Fling Committee. “This year I am so excited as a junior to be the head of such a big part of the UMF culture,” said Tremblay.

The positive atmosphere made it so all the performers were comfortable. The night showcased many different acts; singers, comedians, a rifle spinner, and a psychic reading. Each act was special in its own way, and ended with a loud applause from the cheering audience.

“It was so much fun to watch all the different kinds of acts,” said Emileigh Parsons, an audience member.

Many of the performers found it hard to find time to practice their routines. Collin Regan, a singer in the show, had the opposite problem.

“The song had a couple parts where it started to hit the top of my range, so I had to be careful not to over sing, or practice too much,” said Regan.

After two hours, when all the performers had finished, the judges took a couple minutes to tally up the scores and anticipation hung over the audience. The top three performances went to Mitchell Walston, Lucas Dwornik-Longacre, and Collin Regan. They were all singing acts that contained a lot of heart.

Mitchell Walston, first-place winner, was happy with how the show turned out. He was awed at how many great performers the show featured and their ability to amaze the audience.

“It feels really great to win!” said Walston. “But honestly, there were many other performers who also deserved to be recognized for their fantastic performances.”

Public Library Budget Doesn’t Meet Rising Employment Costs: Hours Cut, Staff Plows Onward

Public Library Budget Doesn’t Meet Rising Employment Costs: Hours Cut, Staff Plows Onward

By Savannah Bachelder, Contributing Writer

The Farmington Public Library on Academy Street. (Photo by Savannah Bachelder)

The Farmington Public Library on Academy Street. (Photo by Savannah Bachelder)

While the Farmington Public Library looks the same on outside, regular patrons will find both organizational changes and improvements within. However, there will be less time each week for visitors to enjoy these changes after weekly hours of operation were recently cut to make up for the rising employment costs associated with the statewide minimum wage increase among other issues. The library staff and board of directors are currently working to organize fundraising and grant-writing efforts to compensate for the funding shortage.

In a recent effort to open up more space, the genealogy room was moved upstairs in order to bring the young-adult section, which is in higher demand, to the first floor. Maurie Stockford, the director of the library, said that everything was moved around to help increase the use of the library. “There was no place for them to just be, to hang out. So we had to move the young adults section,” she explained.

There is tons of open space to walk around and sit at tables in both rooms, with their own study space. The library also received assistance reorganizing the section according to first year staff member Elena Kohout. “They are categorized by genre now, thanks to the Upward Bound students,” Kohout explained.

Other changes were made for the new children’s room as well. Along with the computers and magazines, the old children’s area, is now called the Computer Cafe Room. “The new children’s section used to be the staff’s private room and storage, so now we don’t have a staff room,” said Kohout.

Harley Davis, a senior at UMF, used the library a few times for college work last year, before the changes. “I’ve used the library for their children’s books,” said Davis. “They have a great selection in there, and there’s so much to choose from.”

In addition to these new improvements however, budget constraints have been posing a challenge for the library as of late. Hours of operation were recently decreased due to rising employment costs associated with the statewide minimum wage increase and rising health insurance prices. “The town of Farmington pays for staffing and health insurance,” said Stockford. “Currently, they could not cover for that. So we had asked for more money to cover for it.”

Originally, the library had requested $209,990 to help meet these costs and pay for utility problems, but they were allocated $196,029 instead. While this figure does represent an increase from last year’s budget and the revised budget submitted earlier this year, the difference is not enough to cover the rising employment costs. It was between the beginning of the budget process and the final vote that the library preemptively choose to reduce hours in anticipation of not receiving the full amount of their request.

There were two options of working with a lower budget: to either decrease staff, or to reduce the hours that the library would be open. Already short-staffed, the latter option prevailed. While the $209,990 figure would have covered the elevated employment expenses, the final budget does not, therefore the reduced hours remain.

From Tuesdays through Saturdays, hours changed from 9:30 in the mornings to 10:30 a.m. While in the afternoons, Thursdays have changed from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays were changed from 2:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. The rest of the afternoon times remain the same.

Despite the funding situation and reduced hours, library staffers are keeping their hopes up, and finding more ways to bring in money. “Our board of directors is working on raising activities, like fundraising,” said Stockford. “Another goal would be to write more grants. We are already on the register for historical buildings.”

Kohout mentioned that last year in December, the library also received a generous donation from the Libra Foundation, of $5,000 worth of new computers for the new Computer Cafe Room. “We’ll be setting them up this week,” Kohout said.

Operation Giveback, Students Deliver Final Presentation at Symposium

By Harley Davis, Contributing Writer 

Walking into the Olsen Student Center, the building was buzzing with activity. Students, faculty, and community members all gathered for symposium day, where students would give short presentations of the work completed over the semester. A large number of people filed into CR 123, took a seat, and waited for the culminating presentation of Operation Giveback, a semester-long campaign to bring awareness to poverty in Franklin County.

Stephen Riitano, president of the Student Maine Education Association (MEA), stepped up to the podium and began explaining the impact of Operation Giveback. For this project, UMF’s Student MEA worked throughout the semester to raise awareness of poverty and provide relief for local families.

The campaign kicked-off in January with a panel discussion about poverty in Franklin County and the resources available to its citizens. This event was followed by a clothing drive and a performance by Maine comedian and UMF alum, Bob Marley. The funds raised through Marley’s show went toward Packs for Progress, an initiative which donates backpacks to local students in need.

Operation Giveback officially ended with the symposium presentation, but the effect of the semester-long campaign will continue on for much longer.

For Riitano, organizing Operation Giveback was an educational and eye-opening experience. “I think the biggest thing I have learned is how lucky I am for all the things that I have in my life and all the things I take for granted everyday,” said Riitano. “I learned that no one wants to be in poverty, and education is a way out of poverty.”

Operation Giveback was successful in providing goods to children and adults in the local community. Throughout the semester, the Student MEA was able to donate twenty bags of clothes from its clothing drive, while ticket sales from the Bob Marley performance raised over one thousand dollars. “I think if we helped one person or educated one person, then it was successful,” said Riitano. “I think the local community is growing more and more aware of the growing issues that are taking place outside the walls of campus.”

Moving forward, the Student MEA will continue striving to improve the community through the education of pre-service teachers. As their recent campaign  stressed time and time again, education is vitally important. “We are looking to bring a plethora of resources here to campus for pre-service teachers,” said Riitano. “Through our affiliation through the MEA we have access to many speakers and other helpful resources for professional development, those opportunities are priceless and they start now.”

While next semester will bring new students and new campaigns to clubs on campus, lessons taken from Operation Giveback will continue to inform the work of Student MEA. “My biggest takeaway was learning the impact that a group of like-minded people with a goal can make,” said Riitano. “It takes a village, but that village has to be full of dedicated individuals.”

The Student MEA is working to join with other on-campus clubs to give back to the community. For more information about future events from Student MEA, the club can be reached at umfstudentmea@gmail.com.

Seth Noonkester: The New General Manager Of Titcomb

By Sarita Crandall, Contributing Writer

“I am extremely excited for my new position,” Noonkester said. “I feel really motivated to make Titcomb successful and hold true to it’s values.”  Noonkester graduated from UMF in May 2015 and has been giving back to the community through his work with the town’s recreation department for the last two years. With his experiences and fresh ideas, Noonkester is ready to take on whatever comes his way in his new position.

Noonkester attributes a lot of his success to the ORBA program and how it’s run. The program has the components of a business major but with some recreation activities mixed in such as white water rafting classes. “You get an idea of how business works in common recreation activities that people enjoy,” Noonkester said.

An important requirement that Noonkester pointed out was that the ORBA program has their students find an internship so they’re acquiring real world experience rather than just reading about it in a classroom setting.

Professor Clyde Mitchell agrees with Noonkester saying, “Internships are very helpful in forming relationships, networking and ultimately getting jobs.” Mitchell tries to teach his students that making connections, stepping up, and taking opportunities are going to be the building blocks towards the career that they want.

Along with Noonkester’s new position at Titcomb, another UMF student and fellow ORBA major, Drew Bates, has been elected onto the Titcomb Board of Directors as Head of Terrain Parks. Bates was involved in the Snow Cats program at Titcomb and noticed that the kids always requested going to the Beagle—where the terrain park is located—and hopes to make the park friendly and challenging for all ages.

“I’ve heard Seth’s name tossed around a bit when I first came here and I knew he did his internship at Titcomb,” Bates said. “When the job opened up at Titcomb a lot of people were saying that it would be a young kid, like a UMF student. I wasn’t surprised that Seth got the job, he knows how Titcomb works and I like that he has a terrain park mind!” Bates said. “I am really looking forward to working with him and seeing how much we can do for Titcomb.”

One of the first events coming up for Titcomb will be a fundraiser for their education foundation; a golf tournament being held at Sugarloaf on June 6. Teams are made up of four players and any level of play is welcomed. Contact seth.noonkester@maine.edu for further questions.

Student Involvement Down? Several Clubs Show Declining Participation This Academic Year

By Andrew Devine, Contributing Writer

It seems that campus has been quiet this year. For the better part of the 2016-2017 school year, it appears that student involvement in campus activities has been on the decline. While some groups have shown success, several clubs, organizations, events, and programs in general have been counting fewer attendees than expected or hoped for.

This trend was first noticed by Flyer staff when it was announced that the Humans versus Zombies (HVZ) game, run by the UMF Table Gaming Club, would be postponed due to low registration of players.

Lukas Kenison, a member of the Table Gaming Club (TGC), shared his perspective after tabling for HVZ registration over the past several weeks. “With the Table Gaming Club it is very much an issue of lack of PR and getting people out here,” said Kenison. “People don’t know what HVZ is so they don’t get involved.”

According to Kenison a game of HVZ requires at least 30 players. With only 11 students signed up, TGC had to temporarily postpone the game. However, following the postponement the club was able to garner enough interest to hold a game last week of about 30 players, according to participant Joseph Needle.

Similarly, a problem has surfaced with the Campus Residence Council (CRC). The student representative group for on-campus residents has had information posted regarding open positions for the various residence halls most of the school year. However, the billings show that there are still a number of open positions in most, if not all, residence halls on campus.

Club president Ben Rodriguez weighed in. “There’s difficulty in recruitment for positions because of students’ awareness of CRC, what the organization is and what it does,” said Rodriguez, adding that he believes misconceptions about the time commitment involved may be a factor.

Rodriguez continued, “It’s also difficult to reach out to people in the second semester of the school year since it’s more difficult to add something new to your routine, such as CRC or a new club. I think most clubs and organizations see that challenge at some point but it makes it worth it to see your group succeed.”

Another organization struggling with low attendance is the Association for Campus Entertainment, also known as ACE. Marisa Getchell, treasurer of ACE, wrote in an online interview, “I’d definitely say that attendance has been down this semester and this year, both in terms of club members and in the campus population coming to events that we host/sponsor.”

Getchell suggested that a supposed change in the commuter population may explain the decline. “I’ve also seen an increase of commuters and people who work outside of campus, so their time here is being divided a lot.”

Cody Smith, president of the Commuter Council, reported that while it’s fairly common that students move off campus after their first or second year, this trend has not increased significantly this year. Getchell’s hypothesis may not be far off, but it seems that the numbers don’t exactly show that there are necessarily more students away from campus.

President of Student Senate Jamie Austin also commented on the apparently declining student involvement patterns. “In a lot of clubs, people are just worn out, not wanting to keep involved. Senate itself had a hard time recruiting people for fundraising and volunteer events.”

However, these trends do not reflect across all campus activities. Certain organizations are finding a greater, or at least steady, number of attendees and participants this school year.

For example, Kenison, also a member of the Computer Club, reported that the membership of that group has been steady.

Mainely Outdoors has also been performing well this year according to staffer Robbie Knowles. “We seem to get more and more people to come out to events even when we don’t anticipate it,” said Knowles in a phone interview. “Even in the winter, we get people who want to hike or cross country-ski, surprisingly.”

What are these clubs that are succeeding doing differently from the organizations struggling with declining membership? What can each group do to encourage a better turn-out? These are questions that returning club leaders might keep in mind over the summer as they gear up for member recruitment next fall.

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