The star has returned to the tower on top of Mount Battie in Camden as a beacon of hope during the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Courtesy of Peter Rollins

The news may be grim, much of the time. And yet, everywhere, everyday, there is good news — whether it’s coronavirus-related or not. Here are some of the most heartwarming stories we’ve reported on in the past few weeks, from towns and cities all over the state.

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Look for the helpers

All around the state, people are stepping up to help those in need, and to make people’s days brighter. For example, a 7-year-old girl in Warren wanted to help out local hospitals and food banks — so she sold her toys and gave the proceeds to Pen Bay Medical Center and the Warren Food Pantry. In Belfast, dozens of people wished 102-year-old Margaret Cunningham a happy birthday on April 21 — from a safe distance, of course. All around the state, folks in neighborhoods have set up “teddy bear hunts,” for local kids to have some fun, safely. And in Piscataquis County, iPads were donated to a long-term care facility in Dover-Foxcroft, so residents in lockdown can have more opportunities to connect with family members.

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Staying creative

Creativity is one of the keys to staying happy and healthy during the pandemic. In Woolwich, artist Martha Miller has been recreating famous portraits from her studio. Brunswick photographer Lauren Hottinger has been posting a series of self-portraits throughout the quarantine. And in Bangor, art lovers were thrilled to hear that after a substantial donation from Donald and Linda Zillman, the University of Maine Museum of Art will be nearly doubling in size, and will now be called the Zillman Art Museum.

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Stephen King in the news

Stephen King had another big week, despite the pandemic. Not only did his new book, “If It Bleeds,” come out this past Tuesday to rave reviews, but at the home he and Tabitha King share in Bangor, an art project months in the works is finally done. Chainsaw sculptor Josh Landry finished a monumental sculpture last weekend, carving animals, books and other figures out of a 15 foot tall ash tree stump. The sculpture is visible from the street at the King’s iconic West Broadway home.

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Creature comforts

Our pets, livestock and the wild creatures in our backyards bring much comfort and joy these days. For instance, Swanville Donna Williams so appreciated her pet chicken, Mary, that she took out an ad in the Bangor Daily News praising her. BDN writer Aislinn Sarnacki last week encouraged readers to go on a “backyard safari” to see what flora and fauna are living alongside them. And in Hancock County, a woman found a litter of raccoon babies living under her porch. The news there? They are very loud, and very cute.

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Clear skies, fresh water

As humans stay home and don’t do things like drive, litter or release chemicals into the air and water, the planet has started to get noticeably cleaner. In Maine specifically, experts say the atmosphere has cleared up to the point where you can see more stars in the night sky, and ozone levels for March 2020 were down from the year prior.

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Road work sped up

One of the biggest spring and summer pet peeves for Mainers is the near-constant road work going on statewide, while the weather is good. With traffic down on most roads and byways around the state, however, Maine DOT spokesperson Paul Merrill said earlier this month that that may help construction workers more easily and quickly finish some projects. For instance, in Hampden, a major project to replace an old bridge has started earlier and may be finished sooner due to the decreased traffic. While it’s too early to tell just what the full impact will be, when things begin to return to normal, Mainers may see less construction traffic as they head back out on the roads.

A light in the dark

Sometimes, all it takes is a little light to help get people through dark days. In Camden, volunteers put a star back up on the summit of Mt. Battie, to serve as a beacon of hope during the pandemic. The lighted star will stay up until the pandemic is over.

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.