Marine Patrol Officer Benjamin Burnes, who graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in May, put his new training to good use this past spring: he saved the life of a man whose canoe had capsized on the York River.
For his act of heroism, Burnes, who is now an Cumberland Police officer, was recognized by the Maine Marine Patrol with a Lifesaving Award at the annual banquet held in early September.
According to an account written by the Marine Patrol, Burnes and Sgt. Tom Hale had both just come ashore from routine patrol and were crossing the Route 103 bridge when Burnes looked out the window and saw a capsized canoe. After retrieving the canoe and helping a man out of the water, they heard another man yelling for help from under the bridge. Gerard Centrella, of Massachusetts, was attempting to swim ashore despite the 5-knot current.
Although weighed down by his gun belt, boots and vest, Burnes ran to the banking without hesitation. “I knew he didn’t have much time in that current so I didn’t really think about it and jumped in,” said Burnes.
As he swam toward the man, it became clear to Burnes that Centrella was struggling for his life. “He was saying, ‘I can’t get out of the current.’ He kept asking me to help him,” said Burnes.
“When I saw him,” Centrella later said,” I thought, ‘I’m not going to die in this river.’”
“I grabbed his hand and swam on my back toward shore,” Burnes said. “He keeled over when he got to shore. He was exhausted from fighting that current.”
Once onshore, Centrella told Burnes, “… you saved my life. I told him I’m never going to forget your face. I’ll forever be grateful.”
Said Hale, “Officer Burnes showed extraordinary instinct and skill in performing this daring rescue. We teach the skills to handle yourself in the water, but the instinct to act without hesitation came naturally to this young officer and will serve him well throughout his career.”
Mary Anne Crawford, adjunct professor of counseling at the University of Southern Maine, was presented with the Cancer Community Center Founder’s Award at the agency’s annual meeting. It was only the sixth time the award was presented in the organization’s 18-year history. The Founder’s Award is given to an individual who embodies the vision and values of Center founder Jane Staley as described in the agency’s mission to support and promote the well-being of people living with cancer, their families and their friends.
This year, the trustees voted unanimously to recognize Crawford for her long-term work with the Cancer Community Center; she has been a volunteer support group facilitator since 2001. As a licensed clinical practicing counselor, Crawford works closely with Center staff in the training and support of volunteer facilitators. She also helped to establish the Center as a site for USM counseling student interns and she continues to support interns at the Center by providing them with clinical supervision.
On Sept. 20, Scarborough Terrace Assisted Living presented Meals on Wheels volunteer and local resident, Vivian Howe, with the annual Scarborough Terrace Assisted Living Senior Service Award. The award recognizes an area senior for making a difference in the lives of others through volunteerism. Since 2011, Howe has delivered meals to local seniors once a week and has logged 582 volunteer hours.
The community also recognized Southern Maine Agency on Aging for the organization’s dedication and mission to bettering the lives of those in need. The Southern Maine Agency on Aging and Howe were each awarded a $500 gift from Scarborough Terrace Assisted Living during a special ceremony.
The Maine Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program recently awarded OceanView at Falmouth caregiver, Edie Shean, with the 2016 Excellence in Long-Term Care Award. Shean accepted the award at a ceremony at The Blaine House in Augusta Sept 13. The organization awards the top long-term caregivers in Maine who go above-and-beyond their duties.
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap presented Portland City Clerk Kathy Jones with the prestigious Lorraine M. Fleury Award at the beginning of the second day of the Maine State Elections Administration Conference at the Sunday River complex in Newry on Sept. 22.
Each year, the Secretary of State solicits nominations for the award, named for longtime state Director of Elections Lorraine M. Fleury. The department presents the award to recognize and honor an individual who has made a significant contribution to the election process and who exemplifies the qualities of fairness, experience, knowledge and service.
“The integrity and efficiency of the election process depends almost entirely on the devoted service of municipal elections officials,” said Dunlap. “It’s always a challenge to single any one of them out, but the acknowledgement and praise from co-workers, neighbors, colleagues and the elected officials who also serve our communities makes this an incredibly gratifying process.”
Jones’ nominations described the energy and devotion that she has shown in constantly implementing better ways to serve the public, and looking for new ideas through her service on a number of clerk’s associations and on the Elections Working Group.
According to the Secretary of State’s Office, one of Jones’ many accomplishments as city clerk was her commitment to researching, learning and successfully facilitating Portland’s first-ever Ranked Choice Voting system for the mayoral election in 2011. She expertly implemented plans for redistricting, polling place relocation, local citizen initiatives, and trained a workforce of more than 200 staffers. Jones also improved the process for tallying absentee ballots, and created a detailed training manual for elections.
“Kathy Jones runs Maine’s largest and busiest city clerk’s office, and does it extremely well,” said Dunlap as he presented the award. “It’s a testament to her devotion to the democratic process that Portland’s elections run so smoothly. That doesn’t happen by accident. Without the commitment of town and city clerks like Kathy Jones, we’d be in a very tough spot, for sure.”