PARIS – The second day of the Oxford Hills Business Expo offered opportunities for parents to protect their children, as well as plan for their future.

Families entering the expo through the Oxford Hills High School’s main entrance were met by the Masonic Child Identification Program, or CHIP. A free service provided by the Maine Masons, CHIP records information about children that parents would need if their child were missing or abducted.

Fred Campbell, a member of the Granite Lodge in West Paris, is the CHIP coordinator for six districts, including the Norway-Paris area. He said that the Maine Masons have offered the program for about seven years, after a member relocating from Rhode Island brought them the idea. Since then, 17,000 children have been registered with the program in Maine.

Eight-year-old Cheyanne Henderson, of West Paris, was one of about 100 children who registered with the program Saturday. The first step in the process for Henderson was to make a dental imprint. Dr. Maurice Convey, president of the Maine Dental Association, asked her to bite down on a plastic wafer, which she held in her mouth for an uncomfortable few minutes.

The wafer preserved not only her “toothprint,” but a sample of her DNA. Convey said that even after being frozen for five years, the DNA can be used to help identify a child. In fact, he said the scent of the child also remains on the wafer and can be used by a dog to help find a missing child.

Next, she had her fingerprints taken by Ralph Chamberlain, of the Paris Lodge, a process she said was fun compared to biting the “nasty” dental imprint. Last, she was videotaped answering a series of questions asked by Campbell. The questions included her name, address and school; they were used to document her voice and mannerisms.

All of the information went home with the girl’s mother, who was told to store it in the freezer. If the house were to burn, Chamberlain explained, the CHIP record would remain safe there.

Also at the expo, representatives from the University of Maine at Orono and other schools were available to answer questions and help students get started on their paths to secondary education.

Scott Heidrich, a junior at Oxford Hills High School, filled out a card requesting more information about the university while his mother, Eileen, chatted with Laurie Friberg, of the UMaine admissions office. Heidrich said he’d been excited to hear about the college fair and “actually put it in my schedule in my cell phone” to be sure he attended.

During the event, children collected balloons, pencils and candy from local businesses. When that lost its charm, they could relax in the Kids’ Extravaganza, organized by the Oxford Hills Children’s House, where they could build with blocks, paint a mural or make trail mix to snack on.

Alicia Loper, of the Children’s House, said, “I hope that families would gravitate to the Expo not just for the business side, but for the family aspect as well.”


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