How to follow up vultures in Mongolia?

Make it jaguars in Brazil.

Elaine Makas — Androscoggin County commissioner, adjunct associate professor, former state legislator and, clearly, adventurer — spent two weeks last summer tagging vultures as a volunteer through the Earthwatch Institute.

This August she headed to South America for two weeks to the Jaguar Conservation Fund offices nestled next to Emas National Park.

Large farmers in Brazil must set aside a portion of their land for conservation, Makas said. Fund researchers are trying to create a corridor out of that land that allows the cats to travel between protected zones.

But first: Measure population and see who’s already using that corridor.

Makas pitched in as navigator and record keeper as volunteers set and collected camera traps.

“On the cameras, half of the pictures were of the amazing animals, including lots and lots of jaguars and pumas,” she said. “It was too dangerous to go out at night — not because we were afraid they would hurt us; we were afraid we were going to hit something.”

Though she saw lots of other wildlife, the closest she came to seeing a jaguar in the wild was a giant paw print.

She was, though, part of a sweet discovery: One memory card she labeled captures a mother and two cubs in that corridor, the first time in their nine years of looking that cubs had been spotted outside the park.

“It was really special to me to do something that actually might save endangered species,” she said. “They’re magnificent, they’re so powerful and they are so beautiful.”

— Kathryn Skelton

Principal in the box

LEWISTON — Longley Elementary School Principal Linda St. Andre didn’t just lecture her teachers to get out of the box during an Aug. 27 workshop.

She did it herself, literally.

As Assistant Principal Deanna Nadeau was talking to the group, Longley custodian Andrew Fenderson wheeled in a big, cardboard box and plunked it down.

Near the end of Nadeau’s pitch, a voice from inside the box started talking.

“It’s really dark in here!”

“I can’t see anything!”

“What would it be like to get out?”

She could hear teachers express surprise that someone was in there.

Slowly St. Andre poked her head out, continuing her monologue.

“I can see but I can’t do too much because I’m still in the box.”

“What would it be like to get out of the box?”

She finally stood up and got out.

This year’s theme at Longley is “rigor, relevance and relationships,” meaning the curriculum should be rigorous and meaningful, and that teachers building relationships with students is critical to their learning.

Teachers are encouraged to make learning fun, keep students engaged and get out of the box. St. Andre’s skit was her way of illustrating that new ways of communicating can be done.

“They were engaged,” St. Andre said of her teachers. “Every eye was on me.”

St. Andre said the box wasn’t comfortable. “I was scrunched.”

— Bonnie Washuk

People generous in sharing eyeglasses

JAY — It is tough to get older and realize you need eyeglasses to read the small print.

Jay forester Steve Gettle had printed out a list of timber prices that four different companies had bid to give to the town for a town-owned wood lot.

He was trying to go over the list at a Board of Selectpersons meeting on Monday and realized he left his glasses in his truck. The information on the list was printed in very, very small print.

He struggled to read, then asked to borrow a pair of glasses from an audience member. When he was finished he gave them back.

Gettle had to refer to the list again and struggled to read.

Board Chairman Steve McCourt gave him his glasses. Gettle started reading again and finished. These are strong, he said, and handed them back to McCourt.

Gettle was asked another question about the pricing.

He referred to the list again and struggled. Someone from the audience handed him another pair of glasses.

This is awful, Gettle said, about having to use other people’s glasses.

— Donna M. Perry

Info in the cloud

FARMINGTON — Discovery information was “in the cloud” and proved hard for defense attorneys representing four co-defendants to get in an overdose death case.

The cases were supposed to be heard Friday in Franklin County Superior Court in Farmington.

Defense attorneys told Justice Michaela Murphy about the problem.

They stepped into the Judge’s Chambers to discuss the cases and the access problems.

It took one attorney 10 hours to get all of the discovery he needed, Murphy said upon returning to the courtroom.

The problem is the information was not labeled and not easily accessed. Cloud computing refers to being able to store and access information over the Internet instead of a computer hard drive.

Murphy called the problem a “complex discovery” access issue. Lawyers previously were able to get discovery through email and other ways, she said, so she didn’t believe it was security issue.

Murphy said that she was convinced that the District Attorneys Office was not trying to make it difficult for them to get the information.

“I am convinced you are doing what you can” but you need to do better, she told Assistant District Attorney James Andrews.

The discovery information needs to be labeled in a way so that it is easier for defense attorneys to download other defendants information in the case, she said.

She asked defense attorney Tom Carey, who spent the 10 hours downloading discovery, to share with the other attorneys. He told her he would give them the identification numbers needed.

Andrews said he has spoken to police departments using the cloud and asked them to put identifying labels on the information.

The defendants in the overdose case are due back in court in September.

— Donna M. Perry

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