Student Spotlight: Hailey Mealey

Student Spotlight: Hailey Mealey

By Lindsay Mower – Staff Reporter

When Farmington native and Biology Major Hailey Mealey isn’t outside collecting bugs for the entomology course she’s enrolled in this semester, she will most likely be found crafting works of art for Hailey Jane Creations, the grassroots art business she started up last fall.

Biology Major and local artist Hailey Mealey. (Photo by Waylon Wolfe Photography)

Creating art has been a consistent outlet for expression for Mealey, though she became increasingly inspired to turn her passion into a way to sustain herself financially through the persuasion of her family, who encouraged her that people would most definitely be interested in buying her artwork. “I’ve always made art because it’s just something I super love,” said Mealey.

Mealey says she always thought that no one would be interested in her artwork. “My family would always try to convince me to sell my work, and I would be like, guys, no one wants to buy an eight-foot painting of an eyeball turning into a lizard,” she laughed, adding, “I don’t know a lot of people in the market for that.”

Having her high school art teacher at Mount Blue High School, Roger Bisaillon, as a mentor also played a pivotal role early on in encouraging Mealey that she had a gift that had potential. Bisaillon, who recently retired, and his wife are both successful local artists in Farmington. “I was really lucky to have him in class,” said Mealey. “He really guided me through that period of development and was always so supportive: he still is.”

After graduating from Mount Blue High School in 2014, Mealey studied Art Education at the University of Maine at Orono for a year before deciding to transfer back to her hometown university to pursue her passion for Biology. “Sometimes I get a little hometown-angsty being back in the area, but the Biology program is so great here and all the professors and students are so nice. There is a different atmosphere returning than having grown up here,” said Mealey.

Paintings from Mealey’s bug series. (Photo Courtesy of Hailey Mealey)

Though she is now studying Biology, Mealey hasn’t given up making art, she has even found a way to effortlessly combine her pair of passions. “I realized that what I was learning at Orono wasn’t what I loved about art… I love Biology. It’s just such a wide field, I can do so many things with it, and it’s inspired a lot of my artwork too.” Mealey smiles as she describes the bug series she has been working on, influenced by her love for the outdoors and the entomology class she is currently taking.

The idea to create her own business sprung to life around the time she left her job, according to Mealey. “I wanted to be able to focus on school, while still doing the things I enjoy, and I was just in a really unhappy place,” she said.

For Christmas Mealey painted some watercolor portraits of her and her siblings for her Grandparents and uploaded them to Facebook to demonstrate a custom gift she could make for someone else as a means to make some money. To her surprise, the post caught attention immediately. She began to successfully sell some of her work on Etsy, and has since launched her own website at

Mealey’s Maine inspired creations. (Photo Courtesy of Hailey Mealey)

Along with Mealey’s zany creations like eyeballs morphing into lizards, her creations take on many different themes. Facebook users may have stumbled across her popular watercolor designs in their newsfeed, like her rainbow painting of Bernie Sanders that she posted last year around the election, or her Maine-centric art. One of her more recent works features an outline of the state of Maine featuring a watercolor painting of ‘It’ from the Stephen King movie released earlier this fall painted inside.

As the holiday season approaches, Mealey has been balancing her class work with fulfilling custom orders. Although she will be busy for the next few weeks, she will be accepting orders again very soon. She can be contacted on her Facebook page under Hailey Jane Creations.

Drive-Thru Bans: A Solution for Franklin County?

Drive-Thru Bans: A Solution for Franklin County?

Lindsay Mower – Staff Reporter

In effort to increase health promotion, some towns have adopted drive-thru bans for fast food establishments. In some communities this type of ban has been around as far back as 1982: like San Luis Obispo, a college town located on the central coast of California.

With a population of 47,526, as compared to Farmington’s population of 7,760, San Luis Obispo is characterized by small shops, happy pedestrians and open sidewalks. The community originally adopted the ban in effort to maintain air quality, preserve the town’s character, promote a more pedestrian-oriented community and to reduce the high volume of traffic. A year later, neighboring City of Pismo Beach also banned drive-thrus within their Coastal Zone, followed by Arroyo Grande in 1991 and the City of Paso Robles in 2004.

“A student group galvanized citizens to push through a project that created a cultural and social focus for this city and, in doing so, improved the quality of its government. With more citizen participation, the town’s focus shifted away from optimizing the business environment to maximizing quality of life,” says an excerpt from ‘Thrive: Finding Happiness The Blue Zones Way’ by Dan Buettner, ‘In Lessons From San Luis Obispo’ published on

San Luis Obispo can’t keep a McDonald’s establishment in business. How can a college town in California with nearly five times the population of our own college town in Maine be unable to support a single McDonald’s, albeit one lacking a drive-thru, while we successfully support a Burger King, Taco-Bell, KFC and Dunkin Donuts, in addition to a McDonalds, and have various local restaurants in town that offer delivery and take-out options? While San Luis Obispo is a pedestrian-oriented community, Farmington’s drive-thru district is not. The bulk of our drive-thrus are located only in driving distance, making them a common option for busy people passing through who are most likely short on time to prepare a meal for themselves.

With Franklin County being one of the more unhealthy counties in Maine, at first glance it would seem like an obvious solution for Farmington to adopt a ban like this in effort to promote healthy lifestyles among the population.

Community Health Professor Maurice Martin admits he has never considered the implications of a removing the drive-thrus at fast food establishment in the name of health promotion. “I think if Farmington were to adopt the ban there would certainly be a boom to the area small businesses, which when the area small businesses are doing well, the general community health improves: on all levels, not just physical. If this were the case, that would be a huge benefit,” said Martin. “As far as whether or not people would curb their eating of fast foods, yeah, I think so… I can say for myself, if I want fast food it’s the drive-thru. I never go inside, because the idea of fast food is, ‘I’m hungry, right now.’”

Drive-thru ordinances may be inconvenient, especially to communities like Farmington, although their effect on overall population health has quite the silver lining. According to Buettner, as a result of the of the ordinance in San Luis Obispo they “gained a more aesthetically pleasing downtown, with less traffic, less pollution, more gathering places, projected green spaces, a farmer’s market, thriving arts, and an environment where it’s harder to do things that are bad for you (smoke, eat fast food) and easier to do things that  are good for you (walk, eat vegetables, recreate in nature, and bike). The result is arguably the healthiest and happiest city in America.” San Luis Obispo has also adopted an Anti-smoking Policy.

Anthony Lewis, UMF English Major with a concentration in Music and Writing, doesn’t see drive-thru bans turning out as successfully in Farmington.“I don’t know if it would solve the problem here, it might help to alleviate the issue at hand, but I don’t even think it will happen,” says Lewis. “The government moves very slowly, everybody loves a good drive-thru and companies like McDonald’s make tons of money on them, so they will never want to give them up.”

The manager at the Farmington McDonald’s establishment was contacted but declined to be interviewed by the Farmington Flyer.

Martin suggests that, for health purposes, it may be a good idea for Farmington to put into effect a moratorium on drive-thrus, meaning no more can be added to the community than what already exist. “I don’t think that you are going to see the fast food establishments agree to a ban, nor do I think that the general population would agree that they should eliminate drive-thrus. Even though I would agree, they are here, and to roll back the clock is difficult.”