DAM Good Eats Presents: The Downtown Press Café

By Eryn Finnegan and Jeremy Austin President and Staff Reporter

   The latest excursion found our food reviewers once again at a local joint: The Downtown Press Café. Located in downtown Farmington on Marceau Court, in the building where the former Asian cuisine restaurant – Sweet Ginger – once operated. Downtown Press Café is known for their wide array of paninis, breakfast sandwiches and signature waffles.

   The inside of the restaurant has received a substantial makeover since its Sweet Ginger days. The walls are now a warm shade of orange and the counter has moved from the corner of the dining room to a more central location right outside of the kitchen. This gives the space a sense of openness, and creates an inviting atmosphere. T-shirts, mugs and other Downtown Press Café merchandise sit on a shelf off to the side next to the restrooms. There’s also a small coffee and tea bar with a cooler of cold beverages.

   Journalism club president Eryn Finnegan kicked off her meal with a small cup of cheeseburger soup (minus the bun). The cheesy broth, vegetables and beef meatballs evoked the flavors of a traditional cheeseburger, and was just small enough to fill her stomach temporarily and keep her hungry for the main course.

   Following the soup, Finnegan dove into the “Sweet Mama,” a panini layered in crisp, smoky ham, fresh pineapples, and enough honey mustard to lightly coat the bread – but not so much that it dripped from the sandwich and made a mess. The honey mustard was key in tying everything together as the blend of flavors was surprisingly sweet and tangy, creating a memorable flavor profile.

   Staff reporter Jeremy Austin ordered the Whistle Stop, a panini consisting of oven roasted turkey, applewood smoked bacon, tomato, provolone and pesto mayo. The combination was absolutely delicious, and has become the standby order for this staff reporter. The sandwich remained clean and intact, yet was still satisfactorily saucy.

   Along with the paninis, the writers split a five-cheese pizza. It had asiago, romano, parmesan, provolone and mozzarella with a marinara base and Italian spices. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a simple slice of cheese pizza, and this particular one packed a lot of flavor with its blend of cheeses. The pizza was less a pie and more of an elongated flatbread design, giving it a more gourmet appearance.

   Though these reporters were too full by the end of their paninis to experience the sweet side of the Downtown Press Café, dessert options were plentiful and tempting. Dessert offerings can range from cinnamon buns to cupcakes and tarts. In addition to baked goods, the café also offers dessert waffles – with new daily flavors.

   For college students keeping to a tight budget, the Downtown Press Café is worth a try. The café’s menu is plentiful, and a full meal consisting of a panini, a drink, and a soup or a side comes to less than $20.

DAM Good Eats Presents a Bonus Solo Edition: Sea40

By Jeremy Austin Staff Reporter

   Over the course of Spring Break the Farmington Flyer Staff Reporter, Jeremy Austin, had the opportunity to dine with some old friends for hibachi at Sea40, a Japanese cuisine restaurant located down in Lewiston.

   Nestled into the Lewiston Mall beside FunZ Trampoline Park and a newly renovated and expanded Bull Moose, Sea40 is a classy establishment that’ll prove for a satisfying evening out. To start, Austin ordered a glass of Allagash White. A wheat ale brewed with orange peel, coriander and other spices, the taste is a very smooth yet solid flavor similar to that of other beers like Shock Top and Blue Moon. The others at the table ordered what was called a “fishbowl,” a concoction of various liquors (mostly vodka and Blue Curaçao) mixed with primarily pineapple juice and dyed blue, that was quite literally inside of a plastic fishbowl. Pieces of lime floated at the bottom, and—like any classic cocktail—there was a “well-proofed” gummy worm sitting on the bottom. Multiple straws were placed inside—color-coded to establish ownership to minimize the spreading of cooties—and the drink was passed about the table. While it was delicious, there was an admittedly lacking “punch” from the alcohol content.

   The chef that evening provided quality, food-related entertainment that began with a lot of fire. The evening included several attempts at catching sake (Japanese rice wine) in the mouth shot from a ketchup squirt-bottle across the table and griddle and a volcano of fire made rings of onion. While Austin did not participate in the sake-catching of the evening, he did try his hand at catching pieces of sautéed mushroom in his mouth. He is proud to say that he successfully caught a piece. The chef prepared the food almost theatrically as well, and the staff reporter can confirm that it’s indeed a mesmerizing experience to watch.

   A salad and soup were brought out as appetizers before the main courses, which were both quite tasty. The salad was a simple mix of lettuce, other greens, and some onion covered in Thousand Island dressing. The soup—called Clear Soup—was light and herby in flavor. The entrée was served with fried rice and vegetables in soy sauce, and a two-piece shrimp appetizer also fried in soy sauce. Austin ordered the red snapper, though other entrées to choose from included vegetable, chicken, steak, shrimp salmon, scallop, filet mignon, lobster, and various combinations thereof. The snapper was cooked thoroughly, and tasted absolutely wonderful.

   Towards the end of the evening, several chefs came over to sing “Happy Birthday” to a friend of Austin’s, who was celebrating her 22nd birthday. They brought over a plate of deep-fried ice cream, and this friend was so gracious as to let Austin have a sample. It was delicious – though this didn’t really surprise the staff reporter. The total bill for the evening for Austin was around $40, making Sea40 an affordable dining destination as well as a delicious one.

Teen Voices Program Creating Courage in Girls

By Allison Jarvis Contributing Writer

   The Mt. Blue Teen Voices program, founded by Kristen Swan in 2005, thrives today as it continues to make an impact on young girls and mentors alike. Mt. Blue Teen Voices is a literature-based program for girls in grades five to eight that creates mentoring relationships between UMF students and the programs participants. The program seeks to raise aspirations, enhance self-esteem, emphasize personal responsibility and decision making, foster inquiry, and create a strong commitment to the community for the young girls. Swan said in an email interview that the motivation behind creating a mentor program came from wanting “to address the rural isolation facing girls in the communities.” Swan adds that “these programs were created to instill a love for reading, engaging with others, being involved in the local communities, and enabling girls/teens to develop their own vision of the future.”

   The Teen Voices program provides UMF students with an opportunity to help young girls while also gaining personal insights. Heidi Chutter, a long-serving mentor for the program, has had many great experiences working with the teens. “It’s really great how excited the girls are to see us at each meeting,” said Chutter. “They always have stories they are waiting to tell us and have so much they want to share with us.”

   Mentors attend a required annual training session and are then paired with girls from Mt. Blue Middle School based on their interests. Mentors and mentees will read one book a month and attend monthly meetings to discuss what they read, and to participate in activities themed around that book. Program directors try to seek out Young Adult novels with strong female roles, often times with characters who overcome some sort of adversity. The activities vary from month to month depending on the book that is selected. Some activities include creating a personal mission statement exercise that was connected to a book character who struggled with self-esteem issues. Another activity involved teaching the girls how to code and create an app for their personal phone or school laptop after reading a book in which the main character struggled with number sequencing.

   Grace Hansen, a junior and a mentor, said that she applied to the program as an excuse to read more young adult literature. “I have a real soft spot for it and lack any other outlet,” Hansen said. She also joined the group because of her love for working with middle schoolers. “A lot of people find middle schoolers intimidating or awkward because they are in that in-between age, and though that may be true, I find them to be the most fun and inspiring group to work with.”

   The Teen Voices program also takes the girls on field trips to see a musical performance or a ballet. “Many of the girls do not have an opportunity to see live theater whether it’s a musical performance or ballet performance,” said Swan. “They are simply in awe. It’s wonderful to see their reactions.”

   The group also has had multiple guest speakers come to their monthly meetings. Previous guest speakers include several Maine authors, a Holocaust survivor, and Pam Flowers – who traveled solo on a dog sled across the arctic coast of North America. “The reason is to expose these girls as much as possible to the plethora of careers they have before them,” said Swan. “We intentionally seek strong female role models as speakers and guests.”

   The Mt. Blue Teen Voices program has made an impact on many people’s lives in the community – whether they be the mentees, the mentors, the teachers, or the participant’s parents. “My fulfilling experiences stem from parents who seek me out and tell me how much more confident their daughter has become,” said Swan. “Or from a girl who began as a mentee in fifth grade, attends UMF, and then becomes a mentor for the program.”

   “I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Chutter, referring to when she first applied for the program, “but I do know I’ve had a great time doing it.”

   “I feel as though every conversation I have with my mentee is a fulfilling moment,” said Hansen. “She is just so honest and thoughtful that, frankly, I feel as though I learn as much from her as I am hoping she learns from me.”

   Training for the program typically starts in mid-October and the program begins that same month, meeting monthly and then ending in late April. Swan encourages anyone who has a love of reading and a can-do attitude to apply. If a student wished to apply, they can contact Kirsten Swan at kswan@maine.edu, or pick up an application at the club fair.

Progress Report on UMF Administrative Response to Sexual Misconduct

By Darby Murnane Assistant Editor   

UMF administration, though proactive in response to discussions of sexual misconduct, is still under scrutiny from the UMF community as they continue fighting for changes that will better the pursuit of justice in allegations of Title IX violations. Look Us In the Eyes (LUITE), a student coalition, has continually met with the President’s Council to promote transparency between administration and students.

  LUITE is not seeking an overhaul of UMS policies, but for better enforcement of current ones. “I think UMF got lazy,” said Amy Fortier-Brown, leader of LUITE, in an email interview. “We have a Student Code of Conduct and federal laws that protect students on UMF’s campus when they are assaulted. The school just hasn’t done their job in the past of enforcing them.”

   Dr. Kelly Bentley, Associate Professor of Community Health and key faculty member in the composition of Dr. Karol Maybury’s Open Letter to Students, calls for more enduring actions from administration. “Campus sexual violence is also about culture,” Bentley said. “So something that is missing at this stage is a really big, overall strategic plan to address healthy relationships. Unless we create an overall culture [of respect on campus], and that’s… a long-term thing, research has shown we won’t have significant success.” Her research finds that scattered events like panels and documentary screenings are ineffective in creating the necessary change in culture.

   As Bentley’s area of expertise is gender-based violence with scholarship in domestic and intimate partner violence, she feels the conversation misses key elements. “I’m shocked that there seems to be such an extreme focus on sexual assault without discussing relationship violence, because for the most part sexual assault is perpetrated by someone you know. When we don’t talk about healthy relationships and relationship violence, there’s a disservice and we’re missing things.”

   Her claims are supported by a 2018 report from the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel, which found that of Maine’s total homicides, 43% were domestic. The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence webpage also cites that one in four women and one in seven men have “experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”

  Bentley also expressed concern for the lack of LGBTQ+ perspectives; she says the majority of student feedback has been from those identifying as heterosexual. “We are looking at violence from a white, hetero-normative sexual assault perspective. We don’t include relationship violence; we haven’t opened [the conversation] up to include thoughts from other groups that should be a part of it.”

   Faculty and LUITE are advocating for a health and wellness class for first-year students that emphasizes healthy relationships and sexual consent as part of evidence-based prevention programming. This would bring awareness about Title IX rights to students.

   “I think the most important thing is for students to really understand Title IX and all its intricacies because it’s not as easy as just reporting,” Bentley said.

 LUITE has pushed administration and Title IX coordinators to make a flow-chart outlining reporting options and processes, but no such document has been released. “My understanding is that the flow chart is stuck in bureaucratic limbo,” said Fortier-Brown. “I don’t expect to see it this semester, if at all.”

   Bentley hopes for more proactive staff positions at UMF to prevent such standstills. “There’s a difference between someone who coordinates Title IX and just says, ‘I’ll take your report and I’ll follow through,’ and someone that coordinates health and wellness on campus,” she said.     

   Fortier-Brown recently outlined such a position, proposing that the administration employ a student advocate. “It was received well. My hope is that it will actually become something and replace CVPC,” she said.

   Interim President Dr. Eric Brown said in an email interview that he plans to use part of the $3.3 million anonymous gift to hire a fourth mental health counselor and establish current counselor Sarah Carnahan as leader of an “advisory/advocacy group on Title IX and campus violence . . . This group will consolidate the diverse interests working now on these issues and be the spearhead for future programming and for making sure the momentum we currently have is not dissipated.”

   Brown has also continued the process of amending section VII. A. of the Student Code of Conduct so it will be standard practice for a review panel to hear final Title IX appeals as opposed to one person. “I expect it will be formally adopted by mid-April,” he said.

   Fortier-Brown and Bentley are optimistic about the direction in which UMF is heading, believing that the administration is more  receptive now than it has been.

Look Both Ways Before Crossing Lincoln Street

By Emma Pierce Contributing Writer

   On a windy day in early March, walking to class at the FRC seems worse than the class itself. The cold wind hitting my face is so strong that my eyes are forced half-closed so they don’t dry. As I pass FAB Hall on Lincoln Street, I remember that the sidewalk ends here and doesn’t continue until I get to the FRC. I stop at the sharp corner, the ramp to the Public Safety building blocking my view of any potential oncoming cars making me uneasy. I decide there’s nothing else I can do. I look both ways and even though I don’t see any cars coming, a silver sedan swings around the corner out of nowhere and narrowly misses me as I dart across the street, honking at me as it drives by.

   I’m not the only student who has had a near-accident at the corner of Quebec and Lincoln Streets. In fact, a student almost got hit on March 27. As the student was walking towards the Honors House side of Lincoln Street on their way to work, a car with a faculty decal came fast around the corner, drifting onto the sidewalk and forcing the student to step onto the grass to ensure the car wouldn’t get close enough to hit them.

   “The corner is regularly a difficult place to walk, in that there is no real safe space to walk, and it is not uncommon for cars to come through without slowing down for potential pedestrians,” said the student in an online statement.

  The worst time to brave this corner is in the winter, when the snowbanks stand at almost 10 feet tall. With the ramp of the Public Safety building and the snowbanks obstructing the view of the pedestrian as well as an oncoming vehicle, there’s no way to tell when a car is coming until it comes around the corner. Talking to friends, faculty, and classmates at UMF about this corner has brought up concerns of fear. Does the university know about the dangers of this corner? What can we do to avoid this potential tragedy?

   UMF knows this corner is a danger to its students and they are currently going through the process to get a plan approved. The plan? To create a system to safely allow pedestrians to get around the corner and slow cars down to make them aware of oncoming pedestrians.

   Jeff McKay, director of Facilities Management, has been working with the town of Farmington in hopes that they will approve a plan that would widen the sidewalks along Lincoln Street, and allow Farmington Public Works to make new sidewalks along the corner and Quebec Street. “There is no sidewalk on [the Public Safety building] side of the street on [the] corner,” said McKay, “so it would be nice to continue that up around by the volleyball court then down Perkins Street [across from the Mainely Outdoors building].”

   Since the town of Farmington owns the streets that go through UMF, any work on those streets has to be approved by the town. This can slow down the work process and if the town doesn’t approve it, it could shut down the whole project. Even if the proposed added sidewalk doesn’t pass, McKay will be inserting more lighting in front of the Public Safety building, which isn’t the best solution, but it’s certainly not the worst.

   Inserting a crosswalk between the end of the sidewalk on Lincoln Street and the beginning of the sidewalk in front of the FRC could be a good solution if this wasn’t an illegal place to put a crosswalk. According to the MaineDOT Guidelines On Crosswalks, in a 25 mph zone such as that on Quebec and Lincoln Streets, the crosswalk must be in view of the driver and the pedestrian from at least 200 ft. away. By that standard, a driver or pedestrian coming from Quebec Street would have to be able to see the crosswalk around the corner from the Mainely Outdoors building.

   Sergeant Wayne Drake of Campus Police and I discussed his ideal resolution from outside the Public Safety building, the corner in question in out view. “The only way to fix this corner,” Drake said, “is to cut out the corner, bypass it.” Promised by the previous director of Facilities, according to Drake, was the installation of stairs on the bank right before the end of the sidewalk on Lincoln Street. These steps would lead to a path cutting through the field next to the volleyball court and ending in a crosswalk on Quebec Street. Drake says the town of Farmington would be most concerned legally about liability when looking at the stairs plan, but he doesn’t believe that will be much of a factor.