This artist comforted her dying child with a ‘magical’ tree. Now she’s helping other sick kids.

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight: Two southern Mainers are up for Grammys; LePage welcomed the new Legislature with a dire warning; and the sad story behind an art installation at Maine Medical Center.

What we’re talking about

This artist comforted her dying child with a ‘magical’ tree. Now she’s helping other sick kids. — Kathleen Pierce writes:

In 2004, Laura Fuller’s daughter was clinging to life. Battling a rare genetic disorder, the 9½-year-old Delaney spent her last four months in a sanitized hospital room at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Then the fairy tree arrived.

Fuller, a stained-glass artist from Portland, brought in a tall birch tree decorated with whimsical and playful touches to keep her daughter’s spirits up. At night the tree lit up, giving her room a soft, warm glow.

“It was magical,” said Lorraine McElwain, the hospital’s director of inpatient pediatrics.

Now all sick children who enter the hospital can experience the relief of imaginative distraction in the sixth floor atrium. This fall Fuller installed a permanent fairy tree, called The Children’s Tree, and on Wednesday hospital staff touted the artist, who now lives in Falmouth, with a reception. “It’s a gem for the unit,” said McElwain. “There is always something to discover.”

Two southern Mainers nominated for Grammys — The often lauded Bob Ludwig of Gateway Mastering Studio was nominated for an engineering honor (it would be his 12th), while Freeport native Drew Taggart’s group, The Chainsmokers, is up for three different Grammys.

Greg Kesich says the mayor should worry more about politics — Greg writes that Mayor Ethan Strimling’s recent speech before the City Council was nice and all, but argued he should worry more about building consensus with council members:

By selling his ideas to the public and his colleagues, incorporating others’ ideas and forging compromises, he might be able to put together a durable coalition that would give him the kind of clout he is seeking.

If Strimling wants to lead, he is going to have to get at least half of the other councilors on his side.

LePage welcomes new Legislature with warning of impending economic peril — Michael Shepherd reports from Augusta:

Gov. Paul LePage swore in the new Maine Legislature on Wednesday, but only after delivering a short speech to both chambers renewing his call to alter tax and minimum wage proposals passed by voters in November.

Hello from the Other Side — West Enders, harried Maine Med docs and food fans alike are cheering the news that the Other Side Delicatessen is opening a second location in Portland. The Forecaster recently reported that the beloved Veranda Street sandwich shop will open a new spot on Vaughan Street in January. That’s a decent upgrade from the defunct Vaughan Street Variety, which served up sandwiches, soups and salads for about two decades. — Kathleen Pierce

The Big Idea

This remote Maine region has a chance to grow — Matthew Stone of the Maine Focus team has the latest story in the BDN’s series on the future of rural Maine:  

The first people to settle the region around Moosehead Lake didn’t even come because of the sprawling body of water that covers 120-square miles.

They came for the woods. And the work they did — clearing land, farming, setting up sawmills — set the stage for a lumbering tradition that powered more than a century of growth.

Today, however, Greenville has a population almost 20 percent smaller than at its 1960 peak. Its school enrolls 40 percent fewer students than in 1999.

Without significant effort, the town — and the area around it — will continue to decline.

But Greenville is one of the few places in the rural reaches of the state that has a chance of stopping its downward trajectory. That’s because residents — mostly members of local businesses — are devoting years of their lives to changing the region’s projected fate.

They’re betting on the lake.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the editor of BDN Portland. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.