Cheers to local businessman Jim Wellehan for helping organize a free shoe distribution in Kennedy Park on Friday, outfitting hundreds of children and adults with gently used shoes.

And cheers to Wellehan’s customers and others who donated 2,500 pairs of shoes to be given away. Each pair was a true gift to the community.

Friday’s event was more than a giveaway, though. It was a resource fair hosted by the At-Risk Committee of the Lewiston/Auburn Alliance for Services to the Homeless. The people attending had access to information about social services available to help reduce the risk of becoming homeless, and to help people recover from homelessness.

Assisting with the fair were a number of local agencies, including Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, Common Ties, Healthy Androscoggin, SeniorsPlus and the Department of Health and Human Services.

It was a tremendous outreach effort that is clearly needed, as hundreds of people gathered in the park.

Hard to believe, day to day, that so many people in Lewiston need that level of help. But they do. Every day.

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Jeers to the varied and many public officials who should have kept a better watch on the prosecution of junkyard owners in Roxbury.

For the past two years, Roxbury town officials have attempted to get three junkyard owners to conform with the municipal permitting process, including asking Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant to make a presentation to selectmen about investigating anyone who did not follow that process so they would have evidence for prosecution.

After multiple attempts to force compliance on junkyard owners, including notifying them of their obligations several times by certified mail, the town’s code enforcement officer filed civil complaints with the 11th District Court early this year, requiring the owners to appear in court.

Former CEO Richard Kent did his part by filing the right paperwork. After that, the process fell apart.

The Oxford County Sheriff’s Department served civil citations on each of the junkyard owners, but did not copy the selectmen on the paperwork. Kent has since left the job, and is now a Rumford police officer. None of the investigation files were turned over to the town, and no one among the selectmen ever bothered to call the court to get the status of the case.

Two of the three cases were dismissed, one for lack of evidence because the town never provided the required evidence and the other because no one representing the town showed up in court.

The third case is set for trial in September.

With so such time, effort and emotion poured into the process to bring these cases to court, the least the town can do is see the charges through. Otherwise, any future letter issued out of the Town Office identifying a violation of any municipal ordinance will be worth absolutely nothing.

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Cheers to the start of another school year, and to another year’s worth of learning and growing.

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