Yellow ribbons every mile

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Anyone driving the Maine Turnpike on Thursday probably noticed.

There was a yellow ribbon tied to every mile marker.

The ribbons were to welcome soldiers of the 152nd Maintenance Company, returning after more than a year in Iraq.

Seven different turnpike maintenance crews put the ribbons up. “We started right from Kittery all the way to Augusta, 109 miles,” said turnpike spokesman Bruce Pelletier.

A total of 120 ribbons were displayed. The extra decorated the Kennebunk service plaza where the soldiers stopped.

The turnpike also had a message board displayed that read: “Welcome home Maine troops.”

Kerry Birmingham, the Maine National Guard’s Family Assistance Center coordinator, said the soldiers were wowed by the overwhelming reception.

Once they crossed the Maine border they were greeted by police escorts, flags, signs, banners and yellow ribbons.

“Plus hundreds of people at the Armory,” Birmingham said. “The commander told me it was more than they expected. They were moved.”

– Bonnie Washuk
Impressive news conference

Joshua Chaisson and other University of Southern Maine students may have a side career coaching others on how to give a good news conference.

On Wednesday, the news conference was about the problem of growing college student debt. It featured three student speakers. One was Chaisson of Greene, president of the USM Study Body, whose remarks were personal and interesting.

Each speaker was reasonably brief.

That contrasts to the State House where news conferences often offer up to six speakers. More than three speakers is too many. Camera men start to pack up. Attention fades.

The USM students had good visuals: an inflated, oversized ball and chain. While the speakers talked at the podium, other students stood to the side in the “chain” wearing colored shirts. Their shirts read: “Property of Sallie Mae.”

Effective.

As someone who’s covered a lot of news conferences, I give these kids an A.

– Bonnie Washuk

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