By now everyone has probably heard the news…the Saco Drive-In is closing for good and being sold to an entirely different type of business.
We all knew at some point this day might come, but it’s a lot sooner than many of us thought after our community rallied to save this place back in 2013.
Back then, the issue the Saco Drive-In faced, along with most mom-and-pop drive-ins across the country, was the lack of digital technology needed to run modern films. The film industry basically forced drive-ins to adapt to a different kind of projector that cost a high premium. Around $80-100,000 depending on the unit. Most small business owners couldn’t justify the cost over simply calling it quits.
Luckily, Honda, yes that Honda, came to the rescue by offering an ingenious national contest that allowed drive-ins to compete for online votes. The top vote getters would be awarded a digital projector.
SACO - Former State Senator Justin Chenette, of Saco, has announced he is running for a seat on the York County Commission in next year’s election.
“I’m running to be your next county commissioner to fight every single day for a more accessible, transparent, and accountable government -- just like I’ve done in the legislature,” says Chenette. “We should expect more from our elected officials than just the bare minimum; They should be accountable to you.”
One of the biggest issues Chenette sees is the lack of engagement and awareness of what is happening with county government.
“The county commission shouldn’t be Maine’s lost level of government. Sadly, we don’t see a lot of attention paid to county government actions and that directly stems from our elected officials not engaging the public throughout the decision-making process. I’m seeking to change that with a new generation of leadership on the commission.”
Chenette plans to hold monthly office hours, attend community events, and provide frequent updates through social media, email newsletters, and newspaper columns to keep the public informed and to get direct feedback. He also wants to see commission meetings held in the evening instead of during the day to encourage greater participation.
If elected, Chenette would be the first millennial ever elected to the commission, at age 30, and would be the only commissioner who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. He previously made history as the youngest lawmaker in the country when he was first elected to the Maine House of Representatives at age 21. He served a total of 8 years in the legislature, with two terms in the House and two terms in the Senate, including a stint as chairman of the bipartisan Government Oversight Committee.
Chenette is currently the only registered candidate with the Maine Ethics Commission for the District #3 seat which includes Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Buxton, and Dayton, though the district is subject to redistricting changes. The commission term is 4 years and the Primary Election is set for next June.
To view Chenette’s full action plan, visit www.AccountableToYou.org.
SACO – Former State Senator Justin Chenette has indicated interest in filling the Ward 5 vacancy on the Saco School Board, after Art Tardif resigned last month due to medical reasons.
“As a proud product of Saco schools, I would be honored to step in to assist the board over the next few months until the newly elected board member is sworn in,” said Chenette. “Because of the shortened timeframe, my experience in the legislature and on the state board of education, in addition to my longtime connections in our schools, will enable me to hit the ground running.”
In 2008, Chenette was appointed by Governor John Baldacci as the first student member on the Maine State Board of Education. There he approved school construction projects, similar to the one being planned for Young School.
Between 2012-2020, Chenette represented the Saco area as both a Senator and Representative in the legislature, working to increase the state’s share of education funding, updating the state’s anti-bullying laws, and successfully passing legislation to make service learning a component of Maine’s high school graduation standards.
“I’ve spent a great deal of time in our local schools teaching Saco students about how their government works, reading to them, and empowering them to use their voice to make a difference. They inspire me to advocate for the best interests of those in the classroom,” he said.
Chenette previously provided arts grants to Saco Middle School and CK Burns to improve their performance stage, purchase over 20 instruments, and double the strings budget.
The Ward 5 term is set to expire in December. According to rules outlined in the city’s charter, the school board must appoint someone to fill a vacancy when the remainder of the term is less than a year. The Saco School Board is currently fielding letters of interest from Ward 5 residents prior to an interview process, vote, and swearing-in.
See Chenette’s full letter of interest to the Saco School Board below:
SACO – Former State Senator Justin Chenette, of Saco, has been appointed to two state commissions by Senate President Troy Jackson based on his recent 8-year stint in the legislature.
Chenette has been appointed to a 3-year term as a member of the Right to Know Advisory Committee. The committee is an on-going advisory council with oversight authority and responsibility to make recommendations to the Governor, Legislature, Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, and local governments regarding Freedom of Access laws.
“Throughout my legislative career, I’ve fought for a more transparent and accessible government to increase accountability and public engagement in the decision-making process,” says Chenette. “Combine that with my journalism background and I’m fully committed to ensuring we maintain the integrity of our Freedom of Access laws through best practices in providing the public and the press access to records and proceedings.”
Chenette has also been named a Maine-Canadian Legislative Advisory Commissioner to engage in regional cooperation through economic, cultural and educational exchanges. The purpose of this commission is to strengthen the relations between the legislature and their legislative counterparts in Canada.
“Our area relies heavily on Canadian tourism to benefit our local small businesses,” says Chenette. “As commissioner, I hope to bring about further awareness and attention around how we can work together across the border for mutual benefit.”
Both appointments do not require Senate approval and begin immediately. Chenette previously served 2 terms in the House and 2 terms in the Senate and chaired the Government Oversight Committee.
ROCKLAND — The Worthington Scholarship Foundation, with a mission to create a pathway to college for students throughout Maine, has hired Justin Chenette of Saco as its new program director.
Chenette spent nearly a decade in public office having served 8 years in the legislature, with two terms in the Maine House of Representatives and two terms in the Maine Senate. At the time, Chenette was the youngest lawmaker in the entire country at age 21. Prior to that, Chenette made history as the first high school student appointed to the Maine State Board of Education and in college, was a congressional intern.
“There is no greater gift than the gift of education,” says Chenette. ‘The Worthingtons’ are providing Maine’s next generation a lifeline to success through their charity and support. I’m honored to be part of a great team advancing the mission of getting more Maine students into higher education without affordability being a barrier.”
Chenette’s education includes a B.S. in Broadcast News from Northern Vermont University-Lyndon and an Executive Certificate in Public Leadership from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, after receiving a national fellowship. This month, Chenette earns a Post-Baccalaureate Degree in Public Administration from the University of Maine at Augusta.
“We are thankful to have someone with Justin’s background and passion for youth engagement helping to lead this effort,” said Rick Bedigian, the foundation’s executive director. “He will be a key asset as we seek to expand to more parts of the state.”
The Worthington Scholarship Foundation provides one of the largest scholarships in the state of Maine, totaling up to $16,500 per student over four years. This year, the foundation will award more than $3 million worth of scholarships to students going to college in Maine. Aside from funding, the scholarship includes ongoing support to their student scholars to ensure a high graduation rate.
Worthington Scholarships began in 2010 with awards to graduates of just Oceanside High School. Since then, the program has expanded to high schools in Knox, Waldo, Lincoln, Hancock, and Washington counties. Recipients may attend any campus of the University of Maine or Maine community college system, Maine Maritime Academy, Husson University, Thomas, Bates, Colby or Bowdoin colleges.
Future goals are to accept graduates in 6 additional counties of Oxford, Somerset, Piscataquis, Penobscot, Franklin, and Sagadahoc.
FMI about the scholarship program visit www.worthingtonscholars.org.
Excited to announce that I’ve officially been appointed to the newly formed Saco Long-Range Planning Committee! It’s critical that we make decisions today with an eye towards our city’s future.
The Mayor and the city council have taken an important step to ensure we are constantly thinking about the direction we’d like to take as a community. Looking forward to working alongside city and school staff, local organizational leaders, and fellow community members to chart what comes next for a place we all love so much.
Through public input and transparent strategic planning, we can ensure Saco is the place to be for future generations to live, work, and play. The goal will be to continue improving Saco through effective growth management, responsible economic development, and carefully considered infrastructure improvements, among other things. Appreciate Mayor Doyle’s trust in me and for the unanimous vote of confidence from the City Council. Looking forward to bringing my public service a little closer to home.
SACO – State Senator Justin Chenette has announced he is withdrawing from the Senate District 31 race, which includes the communities of Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Limington, and part of Buxton.
Chenette has served 4 consecutive terms and 8 years in the Maine Legislature with 2 terms in the House of Representatives and most recently 2 terms in the Senate. When he was first elected in 2012, he made history as the youngest lawmaker in the country.
“Looking back, I’ve spent every single year of my twenties running for and serving in the Legislature starting at age 20, being sworn into office just a week before graduating from college,” says Chenette. “After spending nearly a decade in office, this decision will enable me to amplify my impact in whatever I decide to do next and was made easier knowing that the district will be in very capable hands.”
Chenette points to the passage of his comprehensive campaign finance reform package this past session as his biggest legislative policy achievement.
“We moved the needle on money in politics, lobbyist influence, and created a more ethical state house so that your voice is heard over donors, corporate lobbyists, and special interest groups that write the biggest check,” says Chenette.
Instead of running for re-election, Chenette plans to empower the next generation of voters through the launch of a civics education organization called the Maine Democracy Project, will publish a full-length children’s book version of his state government coloring book The Great Whoopie Pie Debate, and will be working to help retain Democratic majorities in the Legislature.
Chenette currently serves as the chair of the Government Oversight Committee, co-chair of the Democracy Reform Caucus, chair of the Marijuana Advisory Commission, and is a member of the Environment & Natural Resources Committee, Senate Ethics Committee, Maine Climate Council’s Coastal & Marine Working Group, and is also a Citizen Trade Policy Commissioner.
The York County Democratic Committee will hold a caucus before the August 25th deadline to replace Chenette on the ballot.
SACO – A senior at Thornton Academy has received a public service scholarship for his commitment to helping others.
Brady Forbes of Saco, was recognized with a $500 scholarship from Senator Justin Chenette’s nonprofit scholarship fund. The Spirit of Service Scholarship is awarded to a graduating senior who has demonstrated a passion for helping others, strong leadership skills, and has worked to improve the community outside of the school’s campus.
“Brady is on a path of public service and truly represents the goal of this scholarship which is to empower the next generation of civic leaders,” says Justin Chenette, President of the Chenette Scholarship Fund. “He and his family give back everyday and Brady looks to continue on the family tradition of going into law enforcement.”
Forbes’ father is in the state police and both of his brothers are local police officers.
At Thornton, Forbes played numerous sports including Football and Hockey and volunteered in the community via the Saco Bay Center for Civic Engagement, Salvation Army, and numerous civic activities on campus.
Forbes plans to attend Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire to study criminal justice and law enforcement on a path to become a police officer.
For more information about the scholarship and to donate to help future students, visit www.ChenetteScholarships.org.
AUGUSTA - The Maine Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee will meet next Wednesday, May 6 at 1:00 p.m. The committee has invited Department of Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman for a briefing on the state’s unemployment insurance system. The meeting will be broadcast over the Legislature’s audio system. Additional organizational details will be released in a separate message.
Senate President Troy Jackson and Speaker Sara Gideon released the following statement:
“Mainers across the state are hurting. The number of unemployment claims are record-breaking and each claim represents a person facing a dire financial situation. To ensure Maine people receive the benefits they’re entitled to during this public health crisis, we are convening a meeting of the Labor and Housing committee. Last week we joined with members of Republican leadership, Senator Dow and Representative Dilligham, to request Commissioner Fortman’s presence to discuss any challenges the Department may be facing, including, but not limited to the complexity of implementing novel federal programs, limited staff resources, and information technology infrastructure. We strongly believe that Maine people will be better served if we work together to resolve these issues as the Department of Labor is tasked with a historical challenge.”
Senator Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester, Senate Chair of the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee released the following statement:
“We all deeply appreciate the remarkable efforts of the Department of Labor to deliver over $200 million in unemployment benefits to more than 70,000 Mainers. The team of just thirteen workers at the Maine Department of Labor handling this has gone above and beyond to deliver. At the same time, thousands of Mainers have experienced serious problems with the system, and we're acutely aware that it's going to get worse before it gets better. We need to make sure the Department of Labor hears what's happening with our constituents, and we need to work collaboratively with them to fix these problems as soon as humanly possible."
Rep. Mike Sylvester, D-Portland, House Chair of the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee released the following statement:
“The process of ensuring Mainers have the benefits that they need, and are entitled to, most certainly has been difficult in the midst of COVID-19. Our committee looks forward to working with the Department of Labor to ensure they have everything they need moving forward to keep unemployed workers from drowning in debt.”
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
Rep. Justin Chenette
Press Releases and News Stories about the work being done in the local community and in the state legislature.