Sunday, March 29, 2009

Technical Difficulties

The hamster powering this shoestring operation has expired, so I'm unsure of when I'll be able to post again. Nevertheless, I don't expect to be computerless for any longer than one week.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. To reduce the amount of material I'll eventually need to catch up on when I do return to the Interwebs, check out these links: Westbrook's employees will forgo their annual pay raises to save co-workers' jobs. And a look back at public art created by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration explores Waldo Peirce's "Woodsmen in the Woods of Maine," a mural that was once prominently displayed at the old Westbrook Post Office.

Westbrook Politics: March 30- April 3, 2009

Monday, March 30
City Council meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114
7p
FMI

Public Safety Committee meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114
Immediately following City Council meeting
FMI

Committee of the Whole meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114
Immediately following Public Safety Committee Meeting
FMI

Tuesday, March 31
Zoning Board of Appeals
Westbrook High School, Room 114
7p
FMI

Thursday, April 2
City Council workshop
6p
FMI

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: March 22- March 28, 2009

Week-to-Date:
High: 52F (March 25)
Low: 20F (March 23)
Precipitation: 0.28 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches
Previous Sunrise: 6:30a
Previous Sunset: 7:04p

Month-to-Date:
High: 56F (March 7)
Low: -1F (March 4)
Precipitation: 1.94 inches
Snowfall: 10.60 inches

Year-to-Date:
High: 56F (March 7)
Low: -16F (Januay 16)
Precipitation: 7.08 inches
Snowfall: 54.20 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, March 27, 2009

Charity Garden Proposed for East Bridge Street

AJ:
Many communities have designated gardens to serve
their residents, but few give back as much as Matt Brunner hopes Westbrook’s
will. Brunner has asked the city to help him find a plot of land where residents
can grow and tend to vegetables, but not to keep for themselves. His idea is for
volunteers to harvest the produce, and then give it away to community
organizations, like the Mission Possible Teen Center and the Westbrook Food
Pantry.
- John C.L. Morgan

(Virtual) Prize Fight

Ladies and gentlemen: Introducing first, lobbying out of the blue corner, wearing a blue collar with a red face. Economic benefits boasted: 450 Maine jobs. Twenty-nine supporters listed on their cause's Web site, including fromer Westbrook City Councilor Ron Usher and current State Representative Ann Peoples. They enter the Interwebs this week as the challenger, vowing to overturn the City of Westbrook's recent decisions against its economic interests. From the Granite State of New Hampshire, Pike "Don't Call Me Duuuusty" Industries!

And their opponent, fighting out of the white corner, wearing a white collar with a red face. Economic benefits boasted: 1,500 Maine jobs. Thirty-nine supporters listed on their cause's Web site, including ten neighboring businesses. Their vow: To keep the decisions determined by the Paper City's solons final. From Westbrook, Maine, Idexx "The Biotech Powerhouuuse" Laboratories!

Let's get ready to ruuuuuuuuumble!

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. In my defense, it is very difficult to put this into words.

P.P.S. Per usual, the full disclosure that my wife works for Idexx.

Related: Pike: We've Sued Westbrook (March 2, 2009)

American Journal on the Radio

The AJ's Leslie Bridgers has appeared on the WGAN morning show the last couple Thursdays to talk about goings-on in the Paper City.

Last Thursday, Bridgers talked with hosts Ken Altshuler and Mike Violette about the possibility of cutting crossing guards from the school budget. And yesterday Bridgers was interviewed about the school district's policy regarding the filtering of inappropriate material on students' laptops. The podcasts of each interview can be found here.

(Update: Bridgers has an article about the district's laptop use policy in this week's AJ.)

- John C.L. Morgan

Food Drive Reminder

Food items for this month's Westbrook Community Food Drive are due Monday, March 30. You can either drop off the food at CCB, Inc. or call Tim Layne at 464-2626, extension 229 to arrange a pickup.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Got Food? (March 2, 2009)

The Riverbank Park Reader

Though The White Stuff That Will No Longer Be Named is still dying a stubborn death, I figure now would be a good time to mine my vast skimpy archives for posts related to Riverbank Park, the civic capital of Westbrook:

On Location: Riverbank Park at Night (January 29, 2008)
An unseasonal offering for those who like a dash of the poetic, with a steaming side of rant.

Overheard at Riverbank (April 18, 2008)
Two, ahem, heart-tugging moments captured forever--or at least as long as this site exists.

On Location: Riverbank Park (April 22, 2008)
Seven ideas for a better Riverbank Park.


In Memoriam (May 29, 2008)
The best part of the 2008 Memorial Day program.

On Location: Presumpscot River (June 3, 2008)
Breakfast gulped at Guidi's, lunch caught on the Presumpscot.

Flag Day (June 14, 2008)
The 2008 Flag Day ceremony captured by a photo.

Party Like It's 1980 (June 23, 2008)
Five ideas for a better Westbrook Together Days festival.

On Location: Movies at Riverbank (August 26, 2008)
An account of the inaugural "Movies at Riverbank," an event I hope is replicated at least three times this summer.

Movies at Riverbank (August 26, 2008)
Two words: Rudy Vallee! (To those youngins' who don't know Rudy Vallee from Rudy Ruettiger, just disregard this link as a shameless attempt to entice the gals at the Westbrook Historical Society to boost my readership a bit.)

- John C.L. Morgan

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rep. Pingree: Westbrook Housing to Receive Stimulus Funds

According to a press release from the office of Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), the Westbrook Housing Authority will receive $129,000 in federal funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funds--which total more than $8.3 million statewide--are intended "to support and improve public housing in Maine."

- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know the Westbrook Rotary Club is the oldest existing civic association in Westbrook?

Now known as the Westbrook-Gorham Rotary, the club was formed on December 24, 1925. The second-oldest existing association in the Paper City is the Westbrook Kiwanis, which was chartered on February 12, 1926.

- John C.L. Morgan

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Supporters of Warren Library Plan Rally, March

Kelly Watters, the Westbrook resident spearheading the Save Warren Memorial Library! Facebook group, has planned a rally for like-minded residents for Saturday, March 28.

According to an e-mail sent by Watters, the rally will begin with a gathering at Riverbank Park at 11a and will conclude with a march from the park to the library.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Warren Letters (March 23, 2009)
Related: More Warren Library News (March 12, 2009)
Related: Westbrook Woman: Save Warren Memorial Library! (March 10, 2009)
Related: Warren Memorial Library Closes (March 6, 2009)

American Journal One-Liners

From the week of March 20:

Westbrook firefighter will fight his demotion caused by allegations of sexual harassment.

Westbrook High music teacher organizes an event celebrating the male voice.

Pike Industries increases public profile in lead up to Zoning Board Appeals meeting.

Crossing guards for students at Congin School and Wescott Junior High may be on the budgetary chopping block.

Skybox Bar and Grill is set to re-open within the next two weeks.

- John C.L. Morgan

Cutting School

PPH:
School officials said there is a chance they could
present a budget with no increase to taxpayers. They recently proposed a slate
of program cuts to that end, from trimming the number of assistant coaching
stipends for middle school sports to eliminating transportation, custodian and
guidance counseling positions. [Superintendent Stan] Sawyer said all but one of
the positions would be cut through attrition.
As it currently stands, the 2009-2010 fiscal year is up almost 8.3% when loan payments for the new middle school are considered, but not quite 1% when the loan fees are not included. The School Committee will vote on the proposed cuts tomorrow evening.

- John C.L. Morgan

Broadening Horizons: Water Show

- John C.L. Morgan

Monday, March 23, 2009

On Acorn

The PPH's Bob Keyes profiles Westbrook-based Acorn Productions and includes this nugget of news:
[Acorn] also received $2,000 from the Maine
Community Foundation to create a 50-seat theater within its suite at the Dana
Warp Mill. When that happens later this spring, Acorn will use the space itself
and also rent it out to other theater companies. The theater will be very
simple, with a stage engineered for portability. The seating will consist of
five rows of 10 seats each. It will be casual and intimate, Levine said,
designed to give theater artists a place to work on their craft.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: On Location: Dana Warp Mill (February 5, 2009)
Related: On Location: Acorn Productions (March 18, 2008)

Ice Breaker

This PPH story about the U.S. Coast Guard deploying cutters to the Kennebec River for their annual ice-breaking duties reminded me of an account of the icy Kennebec from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812:
Hallowell folks remembered the openings and
closings of the river the way people in other towns remembered earthquakes or
droughts. In 1785, the year of the long winter, the ice was still firm
enough on April 22 to hold a sleigh bearing the body of Samuel Howard, one of
the original settlers of the town, to his burying place at Fort Western. Not
until May 3 did the first vessels arrive from "the westward," bringing corn and
pork to the straitened town. People both welcomed and feared the opening of
the river. In bad years ice jams made ponds of fields and rafts of fences,
backing up water in the mill creeks that cut through the steep banks on
both sides. In good years, the opening water sent mill hands through April
nights, ripping logs and securing lumber unlocked by the spring thaw. Sometimes
the greatest danger was not from the river itself, though high water might pitch
a man from a raft to his death before his fellows could reach him, but from the
raging creeks on the shore.
Full disclosure: I serve in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: How Real Maine Men Sleep (February 5, 2009)
Related: Quote, Unquote: Robert P.T. Coffin (January 21, 2009)
Related: Quote, Unquote: Robert P.T. Coffin (December 3, 2009)
Related: On Maine Ice (February 28, 2008)

Warren Letters

The PPH has published two letters to the editor regarding the closing of Warren Memorial Library. A sampling:
If [Warren Memorial Library] does,
indeed, fold, it will leave an enormous void in the lives of its patrons and
area it serves, which extends all over southern Maine. It has a very large art
and literature collection that is unmatched in many libraries in surrounding
towns and beyond, along with a staff that is extraordinarily knowledgeable and
consistently warm and welcoming.
- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Westbrook Politics: March 23- March 27, 2009

Monday, March 23
Committee of the Whole meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114
6:30p
FMI

Facilities and Streets Committee meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114
7:30p
FMI

Tuesday, March 24
Zoning Board of Appeals
Westbrook High School, Room 114
7p
FMI

Wednesday, March 25
Westbrook Environmental Improvement Corporation meeting
City Hall, 2 York Street
5:30p

Human Relations Committee meeting
Public Safety Building, 570 Main Street
6:30p

Thursday, March 26
Zoning Board of Appeals
Westbrook High School, Room 114
7p
FMI

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: March 15- March 21, 2009

Week-to-Date:
High: 49F (March 15, March 18, March 19)
Low: 21F (March 21)
Precipitation: 0.01 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches
Previous Sunrise: 6:42a
Previous Sunset: 6:55p

Month-to-Date:
High: 56F (March 7)
Low: -1F (March 4)
Precipitation: 1.66 inches
Snowfall: 10.60 inches

Year-to-Date:
High: 56F (March 7)
Low: -16F (Januay 16)
Precipitation: 6.80 inches
Snowfall: 54.20 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Whoopie, Take Two

The New York Times has an article on Maine's role in the development of the whoopie pie, as well as the dessert's increasing popularity elsewhere:
The whoopie pie would probably be Maine’s state
dessert, if the state had one. The filling is generally of one of two types: a
thick, sweet frosting made from Crisco shortening combined with confectioners’
sugar, or, more conveniently, a dollop of Marshmallow Fluff. The cake itself is
typically not especially sweet, and is often on the dry side, since the frosting
lends plenty of sugar and a gooey consistency, said Sandra Oliver, a food
historian and columnist in Islesboro, Me.
- John C.L. Morgan

h/t: Portland Psst!

Related: Whoopie (June 11, 2008)

Westbrook vs. Caribou, 1969




On the Shot Heard 'Round the State

Just when I wax semi-triumphantly over Maine's longest season (in fairness, I did hedge my prediction with a strategically-placed question mark), the American Journal swoops in with a reminder of why winter doesn't consist entirely of the doldrums. To wit, Tom Minervino's great piece on the 1969 Class LL boys' basketball state championship game between the Caribou Vikings and Westbrook:
“The Shot Heard ‘Round the State,” as the 45-foot
desperation heave was soon known, capped a late comeback for the Vikings on that
Saturday night 40 years ago, giving them a 65-63 victory on March 8, 1969 at the
Mecca of Maine high school basketball, the Bangor Auditorium. Thurston
immediately became the hero of Aroostook County, his name forever a part of
Maine hoops lore.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Did You Know? (February 11, 2009)
Related: On Location: Warren Centennial Gymnasium (January 22, 2009)
Related: Did You Know? (January 14, 2009)

Do Sweet Sniffs Signal a Withering Winter?

If Earl Cutter's voice ringing through the cooling atmosphere can be interpreted as a sure sign summer is retiring into fall, can the slight whiff of barbeque in the neighborhood be taken as definitive proof that winter is finally dead?

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook's Real Heroes

The American Red Cross of Southern Maine honored Mary Jane Chanese and Adam Farrington as two of its Real Heroes, or "ordinary people who perform extraordinary acts."

According to WCSH, Chanese is a social worker at Prides Corner School "who has helped hundreds of children and families," and Farrington is a Westbrook animal control officer "who answered a radio call about a person in cardiac arrest and helped revive him."

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Inspirational (January 12, 2009)

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Maine

You know there's a lack of general appreciation for Maine's independence from those dreaded begrudgingly appreciated Massholes when even an ardent Maine-phile such as myself neglects a timely notice of the event.

Nevertheless, raise a mug of Pine State Coffee (4 ounces of hot coffee, 2 ounces of Allen's, 2 ounces of heavy cream, and a dollop of whipped cream) to this state's 189th year of existence--even if you are four days late.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Statehood in One Minute (September 6, 2008)
Related: March 15, 1820: Maine Became the 23rd State (March 15, 2008)
Related: Just Do It: Read Maine Becomes a State (March 13, 2008)

Roger Levesque Inks with Seattle Sounders FC

Apropos of nothing but my willingness to plug America's domestic soccer league and Maine soccer players done good, Falmouth High graduate Roger Levesque has signed a contract with the Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer (MLS).

Levesque, who was an All-American twice during his stint at Stanford University, was drafted by an MLS team in 2003, but had played for the Seattle team in the second division from 2004 to 2008.

The Sounders begin their inaugural season (and MLS's thirteenth season) tonight against the New York Red Bulls at 9p. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: The Sportswriter: Thoughts on Tonight's U.S. vs. Mexico World Cup Qualifier (February 11, 2009)
Related: Blue Blazes Booter Signs with Stanford University (February 5, 2009)
Related: The Sportswriter: Three Ideas for a Better American Soccer Fan (November 1, 2008)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Westbrook Taxes: 2008 v. 1958

Below is a breakdown of how taxes were budgeted in Westbrook during 2008, compared to the way in which they were budgeted in 1958. The former figures are based on a January 2008 supplement in the American Journal, and the latter numbers have been culled from the City of Westbrook's 1958 annual report:

Education
2008: 52.6%
1958: 50.1%

Public Safety
2008: 14.5%
1958: 11.6%

Public Services
2008: 8%
1958: 16.6%

Administration
2008: 7.3%
1958: 2.8%

Debt
2008: 6.6%
1958: 5.3%

County Tax
2008: 3.1%
1958: 3.4%

Trash Collection

2008: 2.4%
1958: 1.5%

Recreation
2008: 1.6%
1958: .2%

Library
2008: 1.3%
1958: 1.2%

Miscellaneous

2008: .8%
1958: 2.8%

The 2008 expenditures contained categories referred to as Transit (1%) and Health (.8%) that could not be matched up with an equivalent in the 1958 output. And the 1958 expenditures had a category entitled Charities (3.3%) that could not be easily matched up with 2008.

- John C.L. Morgan

Army Names Baghdad Post Office In Honor of Deceased Westbrook Soldier

PPH:

The Army is naming a post office after a local
soldier killed in Iraq nearly five years ago. Sgt. Lawrence A. Roukey, a
33-year-old U.S. Postal Service employee and Army reservist, was killed in an
explosion outside a Baghdad warehouse April 26, 2004. On Friday, Army officials
will open a new post office at Forward Operating Base Prosperity in Baghdad that
will bear his name.
(Update: The PPH has a longer piece on the matter in today's paper.)

- John C.L. Morgan

Quote, Unquote: Trevor Corson

"Finland possesses a few features that Maine does not--for starters, a vast number of steamy wooden rooms full of naked people."

- Trevor Corson in his April 2009 Atlantic essay "Saunas and Silence" about the various similarities--and differences--Finland and Maine share. Corson also narrates a slideshow that explores many of the same concepts.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: On Blogging: Or, How This Site Got Its Moniker (November 16, 2008)
Related:
The Apple Whisperer and Other Atlantic Stories (May 7, 2008)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Biotech Park Planned for Rand Road

Though the City of Portland will own the park located just off Exit 47, the City of Westbrook's involved:

Portland has partnered with the city of Westbrook
for the EDA [U.S. Economic Development Administration] grant. In addition
to Portland's $1.4 million request, Westbrook is seeking $800,000 for the
expansion of Five Star Industrial Park, anchored by biotech powerhouse Idexx, a
$1 billion producer and supplier of diagnostic products and services and
pharmaceuticals for animal care. "We want to leverage our existing resources,"
said Keith Luke, Westbrook's economic development director. "We have an existing
core of professionals working within the industry that create a talent pool and
they interact with each other and get new ideas and form new startups.
- John C.L. Morgan

(Full disclosure: My wife works for Idexx.)

Related: Keith Luke Responds to "Ideas for a Better Westbrook" (February 7, 2009)

Broadening Horizons: Turtleman

- John C.L. Morgan

Monday, March 16, 2009

When Life Resembles Grand Theft Auto

Q: Why did Westbrook's Tommy Vercetti Kyle Goding wreck the car he just stole and subsequently try to break into an eighty-year-old woman's apartment?

A: Because Goding "thought he was in a video game."

(Update: The Portland Daily Sun has a more thorough account of Goding's arrest.)

- John C.L. Morgan

Swimmers, Coach Recognized

Westbrook High swimmers Kyle Goan and Derek Hawkes were named to the Maine Sunday Telegram all-state boys' team, and boys' swimming coach Dana Barrows was named the newspaper's Coach of the Year.

Goan, a senior, won the 100- and 200-yard freestyle Class A state championship and was the New England champion in the 100-yard freestyle. Hawkes, a junior, won the 500-yard freestyle at both the Class A state championships and the New England championships. And Barrows, who has been the man at the helm for four years, coached the boys' swim team to a third-place finish in the Class A state championships.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Goan, Hawkes Win New England Championships (March 1, 2009)

Westbrook Artist, Business Victims of Theft

The Artful Blogger:
Maine painter Mary Brooking brings this sad news:
On March 8 in the late afternoon, someone stole one of her paintings from the
Frog & Turtle restaurant in Westbrook. The title of the painting is "Startle
Blue." It is a soft landscape, in blue and earth tones, showing a marsh, water
and mountains. Its title is written on the back, along with Brooking's full
signature and the year, 2008. Brooking's small signature ("m-a-r-y" in a square)
is in the lower right corner of the painting.
The painting is 20"x 20" and can be seen here. If you any info about the theft, contact Mary Brooking or Westbrook Police's Detective Steve Crocker (scrocker@westbrook.me.us).

- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Westbrook Politics: March 15- March 19, 2009

Tuesday, March 17
Planning Board meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114
7p
FMI

Thursday, March 19
Wescott Junior High Re-Use Committee meeting
5p


- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: March 8- March 14, 2009

Week-to-Date:
High: 53F (March 8)
Low: 13F (March 13)
Precipitation: 1.15
Snowfall: 2.00 inches
Previous Sunrise: 6:55a
Previous Sunset: 6:47p

Month-to-Date:
High: 56F (March 7)
Low: -1F (March 4)
Precipitation: 1.65 inches
Snowfall: 10.60 inches

Year-to-Date:
High: 56F (March 7)
Low: -16F (Januay 16)
Precipitation: 6.79 inches
Snowfall: 54.20 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Five Chefs You've Never Heard Of--Until Now

The Frog and Turtle is hosting its "Five Chefs You've Never Heard Of: Boys and their Beers" dinner Wednesday night at 7p, with cocktails scheduled for 6-6:45p.

The event, which will showcase the creations of chefs Pat Aden (Johnny's Bistro and Bar), Darren Kelly (Shipyard Brew Pub), Shaun Killeen (The Run of the Mill Public House), Kerry Motta (The Frog and Turtle), and Dustin Ricker (Dole and Bailey Bistro & Catering), is a $50 five-course dinner paired with beer. All proceeds will benefit the Maine Children's Cancer Program.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Westbrook Foodie, Final 2008 Edition (December 24, 2008)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Augustan: Sen. Brannigan Among Co-Sponsors of Same-Sex Marriage Bill

From State Sen. Dennis Damon's press release, via About Town:

Responding to a groundswell of support from across
Maine for marriage equality, more than fifty state senators and representatives
signed on to co-sponsor “An Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and
Affirm Religious Freedom,” sponsored by Senator Dennis S. Damon (D-Hancock
County). Together, they represent Maine’s smallest towns and largest
cities from Calais to Bangor to Lewiston to Kittery. The list represents
first-term legislators and the Senator with the longest overall legislative
service, Senator Joseph Brannigan.
State Sen. Brannigan (D-Cumberland County) represents part of Westbrook.

[Update: About Town has now listed all fifty co-sponsors, including State Sen. Phil Bartlett (D-Cumberland County) and State Rep. Ann Peoples (D-Westbrook). Thus, State Rep. Tim Driscoll (D-Westbrook) is the only member of the Westbrook delegation not listed as a co-sponsor for the bill.]

- John C.L. Morgan

Skybox Set to Re-Open--For Now

It feels like deja vu typing these words, but it now appears Skybox will be re-opening. The PPH:

The Zoning Board of Appeals ruled last night
the city’s code enforcement officer erred when he declined to grant [co-owner
Allen] Moore an occupancy permit in late January. Code Enforcement Officer
Richard Gouzie said a change to the building--walling off the kitchen-- prevented
him from granting the Moores a permit. The ruling ends approximately
eight months
of wrangling
between the city and Moore,
who has vowed to improve the bar’s reputation. He said he lives in the
neighborhood and has an incentive to keep the bar from getting rowdy.
(Update: The AJ has its own blurb on the matter.)


- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Skybox Timeline (February 13, 2009)

More Warren Library News

In one PPH report this morning, former Warren Memorial Library directors Wendy Hysko and Anastasia Weigle blame the Warren Memorial Foundation board's means of renovating the library--not the stock market--for the decision to close the library:

But two former library directors say decisions on
Main Street, not mistakes on Wall Street, sealed the library's fate. Earlier
this decade, they said, the board drained much of the investment fund that
covers library operating costs to pay for building renovations, limiting the
foundation's ability to keep the library running. Tax records from the nonprofit
foundation support their claims. "They overspent on the renovation. That's where
the problem, in my understanding, began," said Wendy Hysko of Freeport, who
resigned last month as director of the library.
The article also contains the foundation's defense of the renovation:

[Foundation treasurer Caren-Marie Michel] said
board members "were in no way putting the fund at risk" with the
multimillion-dollar renovation.

[snip]

Michel said the building was "crumbling" and,
contrary to Weigle's assertion, had more than leakage problems before the
renovation. "We were faced with a crumbling structure due to water damage and
(Americans with Disabilities Act) issues," she said. "There was no elevator to
the second floor. The space was inadequate."

And in another PPH article, Westbrook resident Kelly Watters's efforts to save the library are noted:

When [Kelly Watters] saw the same library that helped keep her
out of trouble as a child was in trouble itself slated for closure this
spring--she organized the Facebook group "Save the Warren Memorial Library!" The
online organization had more than 330 members by Wednesday. Watters is calling
for the Warren Memorial board to either launch a fundraising drive to help keep
the library open--or resign and let someone else do the job.
(Update: The AJ also has an article about the WML affair.)

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Westbrook Woman: Save Warren Memorial Library! (March 10, 2009)
Related: Warren Memorial Library Closes (March 6, 2009)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know Westbrook High School hosted its first foreign exchange student during the 1956-1957 school year?

According to the 1957 City of Westbrook's annual report, Westbrook resident Rudolph Greep hosted Marcus Rauh of St. Gallen, Switzerland. And the Westbrook Rotary Club (now the Westbrook-Gorham Rotary) and the American Field Service sponsored the exchange.

- John C.L. Morgan

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Westbrook Woman: Save Warren Memorial Library!

WMTW:
Board members announced Friday that financial problems have forcing them to shut
down the privately funded library and begin exploring other uses for the
building. Since then, Kelly Waters (sic) has worked virtually nonstop in an
effort to save the library. She said she's only slept about four hours since
then. "I've been on the phone all weekend from people saying, 'What do you need
from me? What can I do?'" Waters (sic) said.
Video is also attached to the link, and the Facebook group is here.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Warren Memorial Library Closes

State of the State Drinking Game

Thanks to the archives of the gasping PolitickerME, you can scientifically prepare tonight's State of the State drinking game.

The speech begins at 7p and can be watched here.

- John C.L. Morgan

Driscoll: Utilities, Not Municipalities, Should Pay Emergency Costs

From a press release issued by the Maine Legislature's House Majority Office on behalf of Rep. Tim Driscoll:
Rep. Timothy Driscoll, D-Westbrook, has proposed
legislation that would permit a municipality to recover emergency response
expenses after an accident caused by a natural gas utility. On Tuesday, Driscoll
presented his bill, LD 515, An Act To Allow a Municipality To Recover Emergency
Response Costs from a Natural Gas Utility in Certain Cases, to the Legislature’s
Natural Resources Committee. “This bill would prevent cities, like Westbrook,
from having to bear the financial burdens of costly emergency response services
as a result of utility negligence,” said Driscoll. “This bill rightfully shifts
the costs from the taxpayers to the utilities.”
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: The Augustan: Rep. Driscoll Explains His Legislative Bills

Longfellow in Everyday Life

Maybe it's just because I just read the excerpt from his poem "The Lighthouse" etched in a monument at Portland Head Light this weekend, but it seems like I'm seeing references to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Rainy Day" everywhere today.

This morning, I noticed Dieter Bradbury's wink at the hometown bard's poem in the lede of his story about how it feels as though winter just won't see itself out ("Into every life a little snow must fall."). And this afternoon I flipped to Golf magazine's lifestyle section, where, whaddya know, the whackers contribute its own riff on the apparently very famous line in a write-up on golf-specific umbrellas ("Unto all golfers a little rain must fall.").

- John C.L. Morgan

Broadening Horizons: Punk Capital of the Paper City

For the uninitiated, that would be the Stephen W. Manchester American Legion Hall on Dunn Street. More footage can be found here, here, and here.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: On Location: MySpace.com

Monday, March 9, 2009

Co-Champ Shagbark Hickory


Co-Champ Shagbark Hickory Explained

Ensuring I am one step closer to dying a contented man, tree-hunter Jim Milan of the Forest City not only identified the whereabouts of Westbrook's famed shagbark hickory (East Bridge Street), but was also gracious enough to let me borrow a photograph of the beaut.

Eat your hearts out, marketing whizzes at 2 York Street.

- John C.L. Morgan

Unsolved Murder Attracts New Attention

From the BDN's article about the unsolved murder of Alice Hawkes, a 23-year-old woman who was found slain in her Westbrook apartment at 8 Spring Street on October 4, 1987:
Investigators, prosecutors and forensic experts
meet periodically to review specific cold case files, and in January they
focused on Hawkes’ homicide. On Thursday last week, Deputy Attorney General Bill
Stokes said that there was definitely renewed interest and that the lead
detective had been given specific instructions on how to proceed with the
investigation. While he would not provide specifics about the investigation,
Stokes said he believed the case was “very solvable.”
A Web site about Alice Hawkes's life and death can be seen here.

- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Westbrook Politics: March 9- March 13, 2009

Monday, March 9
Public Safety Committee meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114
6:30p
FMI

City Council meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114
7p
FMI

Wednesday, March 11
Zoning Board of Appeals meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114
7p
FMI

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: On Location: Room 114

Westbrook Almanac: March 1- March 7, 2009

Week-to-Date:
High: 56F (March 7)
Low: -1F (March 4)
Precipitation: 0.50 inches
Snowfall: 8.60 inches
Previous Sunrise: 6:07a
Previous Sunset: 5:38p

Month-to-Date:
High: 56F (March 7)
Low: -1F (March 4)
Precipitation: 0.50 inches
Snowfall: 8.60 inches

Year-to-Date:
High: 56F (March 7)
Low: -16F (Januay 16)
Precipitation: 6.16 inches
Snowfall: 52.20 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, March 6, 2009

Warren Memorial Library Closes

Westbrook's distinction as a two-library city will soon be no more, as Warren Memorial Library has announced its imminent closure via e-mail. According to the three-line memo, the last day to check out an item is Wednesday, March 18, 2009, but a closing date was not disclosed.

A history of the library can be read here.

(Update: WMTW has more on the WML's closing. Ditto the PPH and the AJ.)

- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Quote, Unquote: Old School Snow Day

"In very inclement weather the two fire whistles will signal by 8 blasts at 7.15 A.M. for no school in High school or grades below. At 8 A.M., 8 blasts of whistles for no school in 9th grades or below during forenoon session, or at 12.30 P.M., 8 blasts of whistles for no school in 9th grades or below during afternoon session."

- The antique notification system for canceled classes at Westbrook schools, as described in the 1907 municipal annual report.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Quote, Unquote: W.H.S. Ellingwood
Related: Quote, Unquote: Charles A. Carlton

Reps: Stimulus $ Will Pay for Eisenhower Construction, Restore Education Aid

From a press release issued by the Maine Legislature's House Majority Office on behalf of State Reps. Tim Driscoll (D-Westbrook) and Ann Peoples (D-Westbrook):
Westbrook State Reps. Ann Peoples and Timothy Driscoll announced today that the
Maine Department of Transportation has given the green light to a construction
project on Eisenhower Drive in Westbrook, which received a portion of the
federal recovery package funds that were sent to Maine . Peoples and Driscoll
also expressed relief that the cuts to local schools will now be halted because
of federal dollars.
[snip]
In addition, the difficult cuts made to the Westbrook school budget by Gov. John
Baldacci and the Legislature at the beginning of this year will be restored.
While the upcoming biennial budget for fiscal year 2009 to 2011 will still have
to close an $838 million budget gap, support for schools will not drop further
and there will be a one-time infusion of federal dollars from other parts of the
recovery package.
- John C.L. Morgan

Quote of the Day

"What? No team name to pay tribute to Allen's Coffee Brandy?"

- Commenter ZenElvisX's reaction to the seven lame nicknames suggested for the new NBA D-League team slated to start play in Portland next fall.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Did You Know?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Broadening Horizons: Electric Stimulus Dancing

- John C.L. Morgan

More on Pike Lawsuit--Sort Of

From the PPH's choppy and confusing article:

City councilors on Monday began a process that
could bring a major zoning change to Spring Street-- one that would derail the
company’s expansion plans. The council voted 6-0, with Suzanne Joyce absent, to
have the Planning Board consider whether the Spring Street site should be
changed from an industrial zone to light manufacturing. Such a change would be a
relief to a group of neighbors and nearby businesses, who fear that increased
activity at the quarry would damage their property values, business prospects
and quality of life. Pike officials said the proposed expansion is a key part of
the company’s future. They said it would allow them to consolidate two sites and
move out of their existing asphalt plant and quarry on Main Street, where they
would build a $114 million hotel, housing and retail development.
How can the headline and sub-headline be about one news event, while the actual article is about another? Maybe it's just too early in the morning.

(Update: The AJ has a piece on the situation.)

- John C.L. Morgan

Monday, March 2, 2009

Burrito Represents the 'Brook

First, the bad news: Burrito is the Paper City's sole representative in this year's inaugural Restaurant Week.

Now, the good: For a reduced price of $20.09, you can treat yourself to a three-course meal of an appetizer (chili relleno, avocado and mango quesadilla, or veggie tamale), an entree (vegetarian enchiladas with gallo pinto, pork milanesa with sweet potato mash and grilled tomatoes, or Brazilian muqueca over coconut rice), and a dessert (tres leches, key lime pie, or Mexican chocolate cake) from now--okay, actually yesterday--until Tuesday, March 10.

- John C.L. Morgan

h/t: Stacy Tucker-Stanley

Related: Westbrook Foodie, Final 2008 Edition

Subscribe

David Simon, the executive producer and a writer for the greatest television show ever, had an op-ed in yesterday's Washington Post. And though it addresses a rare occurrence in these parts (a police shooting), it also tackles the negative effects an atrophied or non-existent news-gathering staff has on cities:
There is a lot of talk nowadays about what will
replace the dinosaur that is the daily newspaper. So-called citizen journalists
and bloggers and media pundits have lined up to tell us that newspapers are
dying but that the news business will endure, that this moment is less tragic
than it is transformational. Well, sorry, but I didn't trip over any blogger
trying to find out McKissick's identity and performance history. Nor were any
citizen journalists at the City Council hearing in January when police officials
inflated the nature and severity of the threats against officers. And there
wasn't anyone working sources in the police department to counterbalance all of
the spin or omission. I didn't trip over a herd of hungry Sun reporters either,
but that's the point. In an American city, a police officer with the authority
to take human life can now do so in the shadows, while his higher-ups can claim
that this is necessary not to avoid public accountability, but to mitigate
against a nonexistent wave of threats. And the last remaining daily newspaper in
town no longer has the manpower, the expertise or the institutional memory to
challenge any of it.
And for the truly masochistic, I recommend Paul Starr's recent essay "Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers (Hello to a New Era of Corruption)."

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. Links to PPH and AJ subscription pages.

Related: Department of Navel-Gazing: Or, Why You Should Subscribe to Your Local Newspaper

Got Food?

Contribute to the 2009 Westbrook Community Food Drive by bringing non-perishable food items to CCB, Inc. (65 Bradley Drive) each month.

Besides helping stock the shelves of the Westbrook Food Pantry, your participation in the year-long food drive (deliveries are made to the food pantry on the last Tuesday of each month), makes you eligible to win a "2009 Westbrook Community Food Drive Champion" hat, as well as a $25 gift certificate to Hoglund's Countryside Butchers on Route 22 in Scarborough in a monthly drawing

- John C.L. Morgan

Pike: We've Sued Westbrook

From a news release issued this afternoon by the public relations firm Savvy, Inc. on behalf of Pike Industries:

Pike Industries announced today that it has filed legal actions
against the City of Westbrook to stop a proposed change in the city’s zoning
that singles out the company’s operations at its quarry on Spring Street. The
proposed change could result in the loss of jobs and cause higher paving costs
for communities throughout southern Maine. “We take this action very reluctantly
and only after we’ve met many times with city officials and others to
accommodate everyone’s concerns,” said Jonathan Olson, regional manager for Pike
Industries.
[snip]

The legal action announced today is on two fronts. The first is an appeal
of the decision by the city’s Code Enforcement Officer claiming that Pike has no
“vested rights” to operate an asphalt plant at the Spring Street site. Pike
maintains that current regulations recognize that an asphalt plant is an
integral part of its existing quarry operation. The company has also filed a
lawsuit in Cumberland County Superior Court to establish the nature, scope and
extent of Pike’s vested rights to use the Spring Street Quarry regardless of the
City’s current zoning restrictions.
Savvy, Inc. is perhaps Maine's premier PR firm with many big clients, including the developers working on Stroudwater Place.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: ...Catch a Tiger by the Toe (March 21, 2008)
Related: Idexx v. Pike Cliffnotes (March 28, 2008)
Related: Donnybrook (July 14, 2008)
Related: Cautious Optimism (July 21, 2008)
Related: Popcorn, Meet Butter (December 2, 2008)
Related: Council Begins Rezoning Process for Five Star Industrial Park (January 13, 2009)