December 31, 2013

Waterville area leaders outline 2014 goals

Helping the poor, educating children, expanding municipal services among top hopes.

Staff Report

Helping the poor. Finding new ways to educate and motivate children. Increasing charitable giving. Completing building expansion projects. Those are among the top goals of some Waterville area community leaders, who this week offered their hopes for 2014.

Ashley Lahoud
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Photo by Jeff Pouland hopes for 2104: Ashley Lahoud, vice president of development and operations at Hardy Girls Healthy Women at 177 Main St. in Waterville. Photo by Jeff Pouland Ashley Lahoud, vice president of development and operations at Hardy Girls Healthy Women at 177 Main Street in Waterville.

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2014 GOALS: Ashley Lahoud, vice president of development and operations at Hardy Girls Healthy Women at 177 Main St. in Waterville. Lahoud said one of the goals of the organization this year is to expose more girls to women in a variety of professions. “When it becomes alive for them, it becomes something they can be interested in as an activist or to make their career in it,” she said.

Photo by Jeff Pouland

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In the coming year, Hardy Girls Healthy Women hopes to broaden the horizons of more girls in the Waterville area by introducing them to women in a broad range of professions.

Ashely Lahoud, vice president of development and operations, said they hope these real-life examples will empower the girls in their programs by letting them know there are successful women different professions in fields like medicine, science, engineering and politics.

“When it becomes alive for them, it becomes something they can be interested in as an activist or to make their career in it,” she said.

Lahoud said one program plans to introduce girls to women in the business community and in non-traditional careers.

“If you reach someone when they’re that young it’s easier for them to imagine themselves in a business or non-traditional career,” she said.

The Waterville-based nonprofit group also partners with MaineGeneral Medical Center to teach girls about a healthy lifestyle and health related careers.

“We’ve had girls say they didn’t even know women could be doctors. It helps them see that as a possible career choice,” she said.

She said those who run the program hope the participants will learn how to be more active, so they can practically address problems they see, like bullying or a sexist school policy.

“We know girls see a lot of things they’d like to have change and this helps them to address those things,” she said.

Karen Heck

Waterville Mayor Karen Heck says she has three goals for the city of Waterville and the community in the new year: continuing renovations at Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport, working to help break the inter-generational chain of poverty (and helping to ensure that children read at the appropriate grade level), and working to help create jobs that pay well.

Heck, 61, she wants to see people statewide change the way they view those less fortunate.

“I want to see an end to the war on poor people, which I believe is distracting us from real economic development and I do believe it’s a war on poor people — no longer a war on poverty,” Heck said. “And I want to see an end to the notion that health care is considered welfare.”

Heck was elected mayor in 2011 and her term ends Jan. 5, 2015. She says she will not run for re-election in November, to give someone else the opportunity.

Heck speaks philosophically about what she wants to see happen on a global level in the new year.

“Can I have that big ‘peace’ wish? I think people are people for the most part and they don’t want to be fighting wars ... and I wish that governments would operate more with people’s interests in mind rather than corporate interests.”

Her local goals include maximizing the potential of the city-owned airport, where a 100-foot jet landed the Friday before Christmas and bought thousands of gallons of fuel, she said.

“There’s an opportunity to really make money at that airport and my goal is to make sure that we maximize its potential,” she said.

Maximizing the potential of people, her second local goal, involves “2020,” a project that was the brainchild of Thomas College President Laurie Lachance that seeks to ensure at least 80 percent of children in schools are reading at the appropriate grade level by the year 2020, according to Heck.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Karen Heck

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Tina Chapman

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David Greene

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Kathryn Foster

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Josh Reny

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Amber Lambke

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