New Pizzeria Slices into the Farmington Community

New Pizzeria Slices into the Farmington Community

Taylor Burke Contributing Writer

    A new restaurant, Mary Jane’s Slice of Heaven, is bringing fresh flavors and perspectives to the restaurant scene in Farmington. 

    Mary Ellis Jamison, owner, and her mother Jane Ellis recently opened the pizzeria at 103 Narrow Gauge Square. The restaurant features a full bar, specialty pizzas, regular and gluten-free options along with burgers and salads. Customers can dine-in, take out or grab pizza by the slice. 

     Jamison, a Dixfield resident, has worked for her father for the last 23 years at Ellis Variety and Diner and spent the last four years managing the business.

    Ellis, a Farmington resident, has worked at and managed the Big Stop restaurant at Irving in Farmington.

    Jamison and Ellis began planning for the restaurant while in their future location, when the building was leased by Uno Mas. “Certainly isn’t an easy task opening a business,” Jamison said. She had to wait for her pizza oven to come in as well as other things, delaying the opening from the original Jan. 7 date. 

Jane Ellis (left) and Mary Ellis Jamison (right) sit at one of the tables in their newly opened pizzeria. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Burke)

    “It’s frustrating, as far as trying to set up a business,” Ellis said. “There’s no handbook out there that tells you that, so you kind of have to figure out what licenses you need and who to contact,” she said.

    She has a passion for cooking, especially pizza, and she loves the challenge of being busy and getting orders out on time. “It is the most exhilarating thing,” she said, “it’s fun for me.” 

     Mary Jane’s provides services and products that other pizza restaurants may not have. “Nobody else has a full bar,” Ellis said, “Nobody else has the ingredients we have. So that makes us unique.” The restaurant uses fresh ingredients, not frozen. The fries are freshly cut, the dough is hand-tossed using Jamison’s own recipe and they incorporate Maine-made products wherever they can.

     The restaurant has monthly specialty pizzas and burgers that aren’t on the daily menu. Upcoming specialty pizzas include Reuben, Cuban and even a Thanksgiving pizza. 

     “I want to make sure people are getting the quality and quantity that they are paying for,” Jamison said. This isn’t easy as fresh ingredients cost more than frozen and employees must be paid minimum wage, $12 per hour.

     Jamison sees her restaurant as a starter job where employees, some who have never worked in the restaurant business, gain career building skills

. “I love to teach people,” she said, “you don’t learn things by just seeing it once.” 

     Brooke Valentin, a UMF sophomore and employee at Mary Jane’s, has worked in catering but never at a restaurant. She’s had some obstacles along the way but is really liking her new job as a waitress and hostess. “It is really stressful, but they do make it fun,” she said. 

     Some of the logistics of waitressing are taking time to get used to. “My thing is just having trouble remembering the numbers of the tables,” Valentin said, “because the set-up is a little weird.” When she gets overwhelmed, Ellis is always there to support her, offering patience and friendliness to the working environment.

    Brianna McGrath, a UMF senior, recently tried Mary Jane’s. She had heard that the pizza was good so her expectations were high. “They did not disappoint,” she said. “I think I’ll definitely go back.” 

    Jamison wants to create a welcoming atmosphere for all ages and share her passion for pizza with the people of Farmington.“I like providing the service to the community,” she said, “and providing a product that is a happy product.” 

     Jamison and Ellis are planning on introducing events like open mic and trivia nights, as well as new menu items like dessert pizza, in the future. Although they are now open, they will have a grand opening in the spring providing access to the patio and giveaways for customers.

UMF Women’s Basketball Battle

UMF Women’s Basketball Battle

Jade Petrie Contributing Writer

    The UMF women’s basketball team has been off to a great start in the NAC conference with a record of 7 wins and 2 losses. 

    The team is led by senior captain Sara Lamb as well as head coach Jamie Beaudoin and assistant coaches Noah Carol and Dylan Eustis. 

    Women’s basketball recently played one of their hardest games of the season against the Thomas College Terriers. The beavers put up a fight, keeping the win within reach the whole game with a final score of 58-53. 

    Junior McKenna Brodeur finished the game with a high of 12 rebounds and both Brodeur and Molly Folsum scored eight points. Sophomore Paige Brown scored the second most points, coming in with ten points and going 4-5 from the floor. Junior Alex Bessey was the leading scorer for the Beavers with 17 points. 

    Bessey said, “It was a hard fight and when we were down I knew we had to pick up our intensity and we gave it our all.” Bessey is a rookie to the Beavers this year but is not a stranger to the sport of basketball. She transferred from Central Maine Community College (CMCC), played on their basketball team and won a national championship her final year there. “It was hard at first to transition to a new type of play but the team helped me so much in adjusting and making sure I didn’t miss a beat.”

Senior Captain Sara Lamb: Lamb taking the ball into the paint for a shot. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Lamb Photography)

    Beaudoin, a UMF alumni, has led the team to a successful conference season. Beaudoin has been a head coach here for the last twenty years. He went into the Thomas game with a set strategy that had to quickly be adapted when Thomas’s leading scorer was out for the game. He felt like he had made the right choice with the changes. 

    His look on the season has been positive, mainly focusing on effort and the beavers goal to have a home playoff game finishing in second or third place. Beaudoin sees his team this year as a well-rounded group of talent, “From top to bottom the team is more competitive, we as a team have an increased skill set where all players have high basketball IQ, being able to handle the ball, and being able to shoot the ball,” Beaudoin said.

    The Beavers played most recently against State University New York (SUNY) Canton at Canton, NY. 

    Before the game, Beaudoin was concerned about the length of the trip wearing out her team and the new environment throwing them off. “We have five games to go,” Beaudoin said, “Playing in a gym we’ve never played in, and also playing against players we don’t know.” 

    SUNY vs UMF final score for their Friday game was 65 to 42 with the Beavers taking the win. The leading scorers of the game were Tia Day and Paige Brown both coming in with 14 points. Molly Folsom led the team with 8 rebounds. 

    Saturday at noon the Beavers faced off SUNY again for another conference game. The final score was 58 to 54 with the Beavers taking another win. The leading scorer of the game was McKenna Brodeur with 16 points and also lead the team in rebounds with 11. 

    The Beavers are now 9-2 in the NAC conference. Their next game is tonight against Husson University at 5:30pm in Farmington.

Extensive Damage to Mantor Library Third Floor in Flooding from Burst Pipes

Extensive Damage to Mantor Library Third Floor in Flooding from Burst Pipes

Brooke Valentin Contributing Writer

    In Jan., varying temperatures caused the pipes on the third floor of the Mantor Library to leak and flood the space, forcing the library to restrict access to the third floor indefinitely. 

    Keenan Farwell, the interim Director of Facilities and Project Manager for UMS, said the damage was fairly extensive, damaging the ceiling tiles, sheetrock walls, carpet, lights, and ventilation. He also said, “The coil, damper and the computer for the rooftop unit all failed and will need to be replaced. We also had 2 VFD [Variable Frequency Drives] fail with coils that froze and broke, causing water to run into other areas.”

    Bryce Cundick, the director of Mantor Library, found the IT department to be hit particularly hard by the flooding. “There was three inches of standing water on the floor,” said Cundick. “It really hurt IT’s area more than the library’s area, but in order to get rid of all the damage to the carpet, ceiling, and the vent, they had to move everything out of half of the space up there.” 

    While investigating the damage, signs of asbestos were found which had to be removed promptly. Asbestos is a mineral containing fibers that can be woven into fabrics. These fibers are composed of many microscopic ‘fibrils’ that can be released into the atmosphere. When inhaled, they can aggravate and scar lung tissue. The asbestos abatement alone cost UMF around $8,000.

Bryce Cundick examining the damage. (Photo courtesy of Brook Valentin)

        The third floor housed the A through E books, juvenile and young author books, IT’s offices, study spaces and the Peter Mills Electronic Classroom. Preventive measures were enacted to protect the computers and books housed on the third floor. 

    “All of those computers were fine, but in our effort to get all of the books away from the water, they ended up in The Peter Mills Classroom,” said Cundick. The computers in that classroom were moved to Fusion 104, previously the Mac Lab, and is now the library instruction room until the third floor is safe to enter. 

    Despite the significant movement of equipment and books, only two books were damaged in the flood. But as the books are currently unorganized, they are not available to students. 

    Farwell recalled receiving the news about the flood over winter break on Jan. 17. “7:30 Friday morning I received a call from our HVAC Tech stating that there was water pouring from the ceiling and that the rooftop heating unit had failed and a coil had frozen,” he said. “When I arrived we manually shut off the water and the heating units to the whole building to stop the water from continuing to run, and then we started removing wet ceiling tiles and extracting the carpet.” 

    He was incredibly grateful to everyone who helped out, as he said, “Emergencies like this are all hands on deck and I am very thankful to have a team that will drop everything and start helping in any way that is needed.” 

    The library will be opening areas up for use as they become available. Farwell says that the library has a specific plan for this process. “We will be trying to phase the opening of the areas,” he said. “First should be the book shelving area, to allow access to research materials and also the computer lab, then IT space should be opened, and then the remaining areas will be opened when the project is complete.” The third floor is estimated to be fully up and running in three months.

Clefnotes Seeks New and Deeper Voices

Portia Hardy Contributing Writer

    The UMF Clefnotes, one of the two acapella groups on campus, is in dire need of male voices. Currently the club is composed of a majority of women with nine female vocalists and three male vocalists. 

    Vanessa Brown, co-president of the Clefnotes, says that having male vocalists is necessary to the functioning of the group. “They add a much-needed balance and sound to our group that we need for our arrangements,” said Brown in an email interview. “Having male voices also allows for us to meet new people, diversify our sound.”

    “Men tend to balance out the female voices with a deeper tone and a completely different sound,” said Teraesa Gioia, a second-year member of the group. “If there are too many female voices in a non-completely female group the sound will tend to sound very high and not quite complete, but with the tenor sound and the bass sound you can get a fully vocal experience.”

    The a cappella group has been historically more female oriented. “In the four years I’ve been in the group, we’ve always had more girls than guys. This is the first year that it’s changed,” said Brown. “A cappella, as a musical genre, has been fluctuating in general in popularity at many college campuses, but it’s slowly been fading out of interest.”

    Gioia echoed a similar sentiment as she said, “When I was a freshman there were four to five men, but there has never been more men than women, as far as I know.”

    Brown, however, said that a potential cause for this decrease may be in the UMF campus demographic: UMF has more female than male students.

    If the trend of more females joining the group continues, the Clefnotes may look to becoming an ensemble of female voices. “It wouldn’t be ideal, but we’re hoping that we can find more men to sing in our choir,” said Gioia. 

    Yet Brown feels that this version of the club’s future may not come true, noting that the club may adapt to a “different kind of music ensemble in general.” As a senior and co-leader in the club, Brown is focusing on “enjoying our last semester with these great individuals. It’s up to the group what their next step will be, and it’s my job and everyone else’s to help them get to that point.”

    Brown has a message for male singers on campus: “To all the male vocalists who are considering auditioning, or are afraid to audition, or don’t think they’re ‘good enough’ to audition: all voices are welcome,” she said. “You don’t need to be a perfect singer, there’s no such thing, we hope to see you there. And if it’s scary, we appreciate taking that risk; we’ve all been in your position, and we get it!” 

    The auditions for the Clefnotes this year will take place on Wed., Feb. 12, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Nordica Auditorium, in Merrill Hall. Interested singers should prepare 30 seconds of a chosen song. 

UMS Board of Trustees to Vote on One University Initiative

Darby Murnane Editor in Chief

    On Jan. 26 and 27, the University of Maine System (UMS) Board of Trustees will convene on the UMaine campus in Orono to vote on whether or not UMS will transition to a unified accreditation, rather than function with each university being individually accredited.

    Accreditation is the process by which a university is vetted for the quality of its programs and improvements as well as allowing students attending the school to seek federal aid. UMS institutions are accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

    The new UMS chancellor, Dannel Malloy who was formerly a two-term Governor of Connecticut, is leading the push for unified accreditation for UMS as a means of cutting system costs and opening a pathway for greater collaboration among the universities.

    At a November forum held at UMF on the initiative, Malloy said, “What I’m trying to get to is a much more student-centric focus, so that we understand our consumers as well as our human product at the end of the process is better served.”

    According to documents released by the chancellor online, the One University initiative for unified accreditation was first proposed in 1986 and revisited in 2015 but not fulfilled. Malloy’s push to unify the system is driven by the need to protect the system financially. 

    Student Senate reported that UMF has had a significant decrease in enrollment in the past three years, leading to some financial distress with less funding coming from students’ tuition and fees. This reflects a statewide issue of depopulation as the birthrate in Maine has been in decline for several years, according to a report on the state population outlook released by the Maine State Economist. 

    It has then become increasingly difficult for UMS to justify multiple accreditations, as Malloy noted, because the repetitive process is costly.

    “We know that we could potentially be under financial strain at any moment, because recessions do that sort of thing,” Malloy said. “So we want to make sure that we’re able to preserve even very small programs that in some cases might get wiped out because there’s not enough students on one campus to justify the commitment to professors and instructors. But maybe we can retain those things in difficult times if we can do it across multiple campuses.”

    The One University initiative also seeks to remove the roadblocks that currently stand in the way of sharing resources among UMS institutions. During the forum, the chancellor mentioned that professors from across the system had met to discuss the possibility of creating a system-wide program, but accreditors said it could not be done under the current individual accreditations as it would be difficult to report on the program to a singular leader or entity.

    Clyde Mitchell, professor of business and UMF’s faculty representative on the matter of accreditation, has seen firsthand the difficulty in attempting to collaborate across campuses under the current accreditation structure. “I have experienced the frustration on many of my students, struggling to take a class or two on other campuses and not being able to do this easily, due to multiple administrative barriers,” Mitchell said in an email interview. “I also know of many barriers that have been experienced by faculty wishing to collaborate with peers at other campuses. . .”

    Malloy noted at the forum that these barriers have halted the progress of students’ degrees in their struggle to meet course requirements. “We know that at some of our smaller universities these people are not graduating on time because they missed the once every two years or once a year offering of a course,” he said, “and therefore they can’t get their license if they want to be an educator.”

    Michael Poliakoff, President of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, supports unified accreditation initiatives among state university systems and sees the endeavor as a way to rectify the issues UMS institutions currently face. In a phone interview, Poliakoff noted that the prime directive of a university should be the “finest possible education at the lowest possible cost.”

    “And when a system comes together and seeks a single accreditation, it sends a very strong signal that this is no longer a situation where individual campuses are competing with each other and wasting resources,” he said, “but the birth of a new efficiency whereby each campus looks at itself as part of a unit that’s entirely focused on the optimization of resources.”

    For universities with a focus on liberal arts education such as UMF, inclusive and collaborative environments are vital. However, with the barriers of the current accreditation preventing this collaboration, UMS administrative practices appear dated.  

    “In the 21st century the word is interdisciplinary,” Poliakoff said. “But that’s just a cliche if you’ve got a bunch of campuses, each one thinking of itself as a single treehouse wanting as many different options as possible. . . rather than thinking of interdisciplinary as a way to develop programs in which scholars are sharing in the development of academic offerings of research.”

    To amend the situation, Poliakoff recommends looking to technological advancements to enhance learning environments. He said, “When you have small campuses widely dispersed, in the 21st century the remedy for that is not to have an independent set of duplicative resources at each location, but to use interactive video, which has now gotten so good, in the sharing of academic resources.”

    Yet, this sharing is complicated by the credit standings of UMS institutions as UMF is unique in being four-credit based while the other universities are three-credit. At the chancellor’s forum, President Edward Serna discussed the difficulty in working with fellow UMS schools due to the credit difference. He told the chancellor, “So we’re looking at a collaborative nursing program with Augusta, but three-credit hour [and] four-credit hour bear a lot of work to get it done.”

    This has induced some fear among UMF students about how unified accreditation may impact the university’s credit load, many believing that it will be necessary to drop to a three-credit basis. However, Malloy ensured students that it is not part of the One University proposal to force the universities to all became three or four-credit based. “That’s up to your campus, and your leadership and your faculty. We’re not insisting on that,” he said.

    One student raised some concern over how it would be feasible to open up cross-listed courses between universities under unified accreditation without matching the credit load of each school. Malloy did not give a definitive answer, but said it would have to be a topic of discussion among administrators should the vote pass.

    Students were also assured that whatever the decision may be, any credits already earned by students, under whatever credit load their universities offer, are protected.

    However, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Eric Brown raises the question of the necessity of UMF’s credit model. He said in an email interview, “I think the larger question is: do students, faculty, and staff here at UMF still see abiding value and competitive advantage in the 4-credit model? So this is an opportunity to reassess and address those kinds of questions, but operating under single accreditation will not in itself force a change.”

    He hopes that the One University initiative will “help UMF to become more nimble when change is called for and better able to develop and innovate on the academic side without the additional steps and reviews that individual campus accreditation has required.”