Sunday, May 31, 2009

Westbrook Politics: June 1- June 5, 2009

Monday, June 1
City Council meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

Tuesday, June 2
Planning Board meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

Wednesday, June 3
Zoning Board of Appeals meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

Thursday, June 4
Mayor's Call-In Show
Channel 3

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: May 24- May 30, 2009

High: 74F (May 24)
Low: 37F (May 26)
Precipitation: 1.60 inches
Previous Sunrise: 5:04a
Previous Sunset: 8:15p

High: 91F (May 21)
Low: 36F (May 19)
Precipitation: 4.34 inches

High: 92F (April 28)
Low: -16F (January 16)
Precipitation: 16.77 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, May 29, 2009

More on Westbrook Police's Mental Health PSAs

Chief Baker teamed up with members of the Maine
Association of Psychiatric Physicians and the Maine Council of Churches to
produce a public service announcement that tells people there is help, they are
not alone and provides a helpline for people to call if they or someone they
care about needs help. "we hope that by delivering this direct message and
making this crisis line available to people, that people will use it and
tragedies can be averted," said Baker.
There is also video associated with this story.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Westbrook Police Help Create Mental Health PSAs (May 28, 2009)

Will Davan Pool Be Closed?

Earlier this month, Harriman Associates, the
architectural and engineering firm that will design renovations for the junior
high school, completed an inspection of the pool that concluded years of
chlorinated water seeping through the concrete have, in some places, severely
rusted the steel at its core. “This weakens the structure, and over time it can
be a significant problem,” architect Dan Cecil wrote in an e-mail May 13 to
school and city officials.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: On Location: Davan Pool (February 19, 2009)
Related: Wescott Re-Use Committee Eyes Olympic-Sized Swimming Pool (January 30, 2009)
Related: Re-Use of Wescott (August 26, 2008)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Idexx CEO to Present at Stock Conference

Idexx CEO Jonthan Ayers is slated to speak at the William Blair & Company 29th Annual Growth Stock Conference on Tuesday, June 9.

A veteran of this conference for at least the past two years, Ayers will showcase his company in a 10:50a speech at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago. His speech can be heard here.

- John C.L. Morgan

Disclosure: My wife works for Idexx.

Westbrook Businesswoman Wins Award

Catherine Lee, the Managing Director of Lee International, was awarded the 2009 President's Award at the Maine International Trade Center's (MITC) Trade Day 2009 event held earlier today at the University of Maine.

Based on Main Street, Lee International is involved in carbon emissions trading markets.

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Police Help Create Mental Health PSA

Westbrook Police Chief William Baker said that the
advertisement was created in response to recent murders and murder-suicides in
Maine. He hoped that it will helped prevent additional tragedies in the future.
Baker makes an appearance in the advertisement. Another person who speaks is
Jill Job Saxby, executive director of the Maine Council of Churches. "If you or
someone you know is feeling angry, desperate or sad, please call 1-888-568-1112
anywhere in Maine to get help," she says in her appearance. "There is no shame
in asking for the help you need."
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: More Ink on Chief Baker's Mental Health PSAs (April 16, 2009)
Related: Bustlin' Bill to Create a PSA About Mental Health (April 13, 2009)

Kesich Column Evidently Hits a Nerve in Paper City

PPH columnist Gregory Kesich wrote a column last Wednesday about the freedom a driver's license gives to Mainers (sorry, no free link). Nothing, it appears, sparks letters to the editor from Westbrook readers quite like a relatively ho-hum column about the role cars play in our society.

Carson Wood, a frequent pedestrian who was featured in a September 2008 WMTW news story about Westbrook Police cracking down on vehicles failing to stop in crosswalks, checks in with a description of the terror that can be associated with battling unyielding motor vehicles:
When you find yourself in a crosswalk and you know
an accident is going to happen and is not avoidable, time stops. In that moment,
you realize this may be the very last living moment you spend on this Earth.
Then there's the impact. If you are one of the lucky ones, time resumes and the
uncontrollable anger rushes in, with the question booming out, "Why didn't this
driver see me?"
And Mark Sunderman, general manager of ITN/Portland, takes the opportunity to plug the services his organization provides:
Seniors face the reality of no longer being able to
drive themselves, adult children worry about a parent who is still driving, and
friends and family are concerned that their loved ones are isolated, unable to
go where they want, when they want. ITN/Portland, a nonprofit membership
organization, was founded to help reduce the impact of these realities. Seniors
and adults with visual impairments join ITN/Portland and continue to lead lives
that include going to a medical appointment, the grocery store, the hair salon
or any place else in Greater Portland that they want, on their own
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Inspirational (January 12, 2009)
Related: Taylor Smith's Ideas for a Better Westbrook (January 12, 2009)
Related: Speed City (May 1, 2008)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know the decrepit building in the corner of Riverbank Park is the oldest existing polling place in Westbrook?

Estimated to be over 100 years old, the building avoided destruction in 2002.

- John C.L. Morgan

The Sportswriter: Why I Am Supporting Barca

Spain's FC Barcelona and England's Manchester United meet this afternoon in Rome to play the UEFA Champions League final, arguably the biggest game for soccer clubs in the world. And though my interest in soccer teams is generally directly related to the distance from my front stoop to the team's location (thus Westbrook High and the New England Revolution attract more of my attention than, say, the Kashima Antlers) I will have a rooting interest in Barca when I belly up to Skybox's bar this afternoon at 2:30p. Why? Well, let me count some of the ways:

1. Barcelona embodies a cosmopolitan provincialism that I find enticing.
In his essay "How Soccer Explains the Discreet Charm of Bourgeois Nationalism,"* Franklin Foer delves into FC Barcelona's pivotal involvement in Catalonia and its burgeoning nationalism, especially during the violent and oppressive days of dictator Francisco Franco. And he uses the Catalans' experiences with Barca as a way to flesh out his strong belief in liberal--or, as he prefers to call it--cosmopolitan nationalism:

[I]n theory, patriotism and cosmopolitanism should
be perfectly compatible. You could love your country--even consider it a
superior group--without desiring to dominate other groups or closing yourself
off to foreign impulses.
Foer goes on to describe Catalans' long and arduous battles to preserve its language and culture and its agitation for independence from Spain. But he's very careful to list the ways in which this active nationalism did not boil over into ethnic warfare or xenophobia, two traits that are unfortunately not uncommon among ultranationalists and some soccer supporters.

As an unapologetic provincialist, I'm always eager to cultivate a greater interest in the histories, cultures, and narratives of Westbrook and Maine. At the same time, though, there is too often an easy temptation to trade in the tired distinction of native and "from away," as watered down as a concept that demarcation may be.

2. It's the jersey, stupid.
After resisting the temptation to join the rest of the soccer planet in sullying the front of its jerseys with commercial advertising for more than a century, Barcelona finally caved in in 2006 with an advertisement...for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) . Oh yeah, and Barca is paying UNICEF a couple million dollars each year to boost the agency's profile and help their HIV-fighting efforts in Africa.

Manchester United, on the other hand, inked a $100 million uniform sponsorship deal in 2006** with AIG. Yes, that AIG.

3. Partisanship just makes watching soccer more enjoyable.
Seems like an obvious statement, but Robert Coover uses Italian fans from the 1982 World Cup to explain why having an emotional stake in a team's outcome just makes spectatorship more appealing***:
Invested with his team or national colors, making
strange aggressive noises with airhorns, whistles, trumpets, drums and
firecrackers, crying out the holy name ("EE-TAHL-YA! EE-TAHL-YA!") or singing
repetitive lithurgical chants, falling out of historical time and geographical
space into a kind of ceremonial trance, timeless and centripetal, he does not
seem a spectator so much as a participant in a sacramental rite...indeed, in his
despair or ecstasy, he often fails to see the game at all, experiencing
it rather at a level that is blind, irrational, profound, innocent.
- John C.L. Morgan

* This essay is part of Foer's book How Soccer Explains the World: An (Unlikely) Theory of Globalization, a great read that touches on soccer's role in everything from genocide in the former Yugoslavia to America's culture wars.

** As a result of AIG's recent financial difficulties, the company announced in January it will not be renewing the pricey uniform sponsorship deal with Manchester United when the current agreement expires in May 2010.

*** Coover's essay is excerpted from the pretentiously-titled The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup, a collection of thirty-two essays written either about one of the thirty-two countries that qualified for the 2006 World Cup or written by a citizen of one of those thirty-two countries.

Dispatch of the Day: Or, My Excuse for a Teen Wolf Reference

A project involving conservationists and U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service biologists is looking for a few dozen people willing to
howl like wolves in Maine's North Woods. The Wolf Inquiry Project plans to
conduct "howling surveys" in several areas this summer in hopes of discovering
whether wolves are resettling in Maine. The Bangor Daily News said coordinators
are seeking individuals willing to spend a night howling in the woods and who
won't be scared off if they get a response.A training and information session
for interested volunteers will be held Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at
the Fields Pond Audubon Center in Holden.
No word yet on whether Michael J. Fox will make a cameo.

- John C.L. Morgan

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Westbrook Resident Allegedly Abuses Baby

Cumberland County Sheriff’s deputies arrested
Meggan L. Loker, 24, of Pierce Street on Saturday. Investigators say Loker is
charged with assaulting a 6-month-old boy at Caring Place Daycare Facility in
North Yarmouth on May 15.
WGME has a video clip about the incident involving the former daycare worker.

- John C.L. Morgan

Moose Spotted on Brackett Street

Residents who live on or near Brackett Street in
Westbrook were visted by a moose Saturday.
The moose wandered into the area
unexpectedly and was Christina Cote of Westbrook was able to snap these photos.
Westbrook Police say the moose eventually wandered off on its own.
You aren't the only one who had to read the latter half of the second sentence three times before concluding it's been butchered.

- John C.L. Morgan

Former Saunders Executive and City Leader Passes

For 25 years, Hugh Saunders was the president and
chief executive officer of Westbrook-based Saunders Bros., once the largest
manufacturer of dowels in the country. With seats on innumerable boards in the
region, he once had a prominent influence on Greater Portland. As manager of the
Westbrook mill, he was as well-known for being a personable and compassionate
boss as he was for being a leader and a visionary.
- John C.L. Morgan

The Augustan: Sen. Bartlett Supported Bill Prohibiting Smoking in State Parks

The AJ has State Sen. Phil Bartlett's (D-Cumberland County) thoughts on a recently enacted law that bans smoking from Maine's state parks, including Crescent and Scarborough beaches:
“When you are talking about beaches, you are
talking about the harm and impact not just for public health, but also
wildlife,” Bartlett said. “I think it’s an extension of what’s been done in the
past to making sure that people can be in public places and not be exposed to
smoking, particularly those who have kids.”
- John C.L. Morgan

Broadening Horizons: Ravi Shankar

This brings back some cringe-inducing high school memories of cruising The Brook's streets in my parents' GMC Safari with this pumped as loud as possible, but really, what greater public service do I provide than to expose myself to ridicule and serve as the butt of a cheap chuckle or two?

- John C.L. Morgan

Food for Thought

Jessica Tomlinson doesn't just daydream about an ice cream truck selling Maple's Gelato or Beal's Ice Cream:
Portland needs an entire Buy Local truck of items
such as ice cream, bread, dairy, produce and beer. Imagine a truck painted by a
local artist with a jingle produced by local musicians. Did I mention it would
run on biodiesel? You could get an almond croissant from Standard Baking while
still in your jammies. In the midst of making dinner and notice you need a
tomato? Have no fear, here comes the Buy Local truck doing its dusk run, selling
vegetables from neighboring farms. Out of coffee? No problem, flag down the
truck and buy a bag of beans when you hear that ram-a-lama-ding-dong. While
you’re at it, throw in some half-and-half cream from Smiling Hill Farm. It would
be like a mini-Rosemont Market on wheels.
Personally, I'd be content with just a mobile Smiling Hill.

h/t: Portland Psst!

- John C.L. Morgan

Buckfield or Bust

Though I never miss an opportunity to tweak my father-in-law about his girls' basketball team's head-scratching insistence to be called the Buckfield Lady Bucks, I was pleasantly surprised to see the Sun Journal has profiled the town I've come to appreciate through marriage.

As much as I was thrilled to see the family plot and greenhouse highlighted (the relative beauty of the hilltop view versus the plants really are a toss-up), I was more relieved by the exclusion of a certain pristine pond on its list of places to experience.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Buckfield Bass (May 25, 2008)

Monday, May 25, 2009

In Memoriam, 2009

This is footage from part of last year's Memorial Day festivities. Today's parade and ceremony begins at 10a.

- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Westbrook Politics: May 25- May 29, 2009

Tuesday, May 26
Westbrook Environmental Improvement Corporation meeting
Westbrook City Hall, 2 York Street

Thursday, May 28
Wescott Junior High School Re-Use Committee
Cafeteria A, Wescott Junior High School

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: May 17- May 23, 2009

High: 91F (May 21)
Low: 36F (May 19)
Precipitation: 0.27 inches
Previous Sunrise: 5:09a
Previous Sunset: 8:08p

High: 91F (May 21)
Low: 36F (May 19)
Precipitation: 2.74 inches

High: 92F (April 28)
Low: -16F (January 16)
Precipitation: 15.17 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Augustan: Rep. Peoples Supports an Increase in the Gas Tax to Fund Road Repairs

And Rep. Ann Peoples, D-Westbrook, said that if the
money is spent wisely, the state would create jobs. Also, the taxes would be
partially paid by tourists, Peoples said. "This, I think, is a net gain for the
state, economically," she said.
According to the article, the proposal before the Transportation Committee would increase the tax on gasoline by eleven cents over the next four years. The 29.5 cent tax would increase by 3.5 cents in each of the first two years and would increase by 2 cents in each of the third and four years.

- John C.L. Morgan

Thursday, May 21, 2009

D'Alfonso Named Second Team All-American

Along with being named the Little East Conference Player of the Year, former Westbrook High standout Anthony D'Alfonso was one of four outfielders included on's All-America second team, which is the second time the University of Southern Maine senior has been named to one of the Web site's three All-America teams.

D'Alfonso batted .438, swatted 9 home runs, and drove in a school-record 76 runs this season, which upped his two-season career numbers at USM to a .414 batting average, 24 home runs, and 138 RBI.

According to the three or four hometown articles I've read, D'Alfonso is expecting to hear his name called in the Major League Baseball draft taking place June 9-11.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Westbrook Grad Flourishes at USM, Eyes Pro Contract (April 14, 2009)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

White Bros. Hopes to Build Its Own Asphalt Plant

White Brothers Inc.'s proposal comes as another
company in town, Pike Industries, is locked in a dispute with its neighbors over
its plan for a $5 million asphalt plant off Spring Street. City officials said
they do not expect such a fuss over White Brothers' imminent proposal. "I don't
think there's anything to run from with this particular application," said
Economic Development Director Keith Luke. White Brothers, which runs rock
quarries elsewhere but does not operate an asphalt plant, wants to break into
the paving business.
- John C.L. Morgan

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Your Supreme Court Fix

Since last week saw the third anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in S.D. Warren v. Maine Board of Environmental Protection, there is no better time to check out Oyez's Web page devoted to the case.

Besides containing a brief summary of the facts of the case, this great resource features case briefs, as well as the audio of the oral arguments and opinion announcement.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: No Sleeping Pills Required (May 13, 2009)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Westbrook Politics: May 18- May 22, 2009

Monday, May 18
City Council meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

Tuesday, May 19
Planning Board meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: May 10- May 16, 2009

High: 69F (May 15)
Low: 38F (May 12)
Precipitation: 0.30 inches
Previous Sunrise: 5:15a
Previous Sunset: 8:01p

High: 71F (May 1)
Low: 38F (May 12)
Precipitation: 2.47 inches

High: 92F (April 28)
Low: -16F (Januay 16)
Precipitation: 14.90 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, May 15, 2009

Paper City Targeted in Guerrilla Ad Campaign

Westbrook, Portland, and South Portland have each been targeted in the Salvation Army's unique take on advertising. Mainebiz:

Local ad agency The VIA Group began blanketing
Portland, South Portland and Westbrook on Monday with a pro bono grassroots ad
campaign on behalf of The Salvation Army, designed to boost awareness and
donations during a typically slow time of year for the charitable organization.
Roughly 50 area businesses are donating space for the effort, including the
Portland Pie Co., which will have ads stamped on the underside of its pizza
boxes, and Novare Res, where messages will be painted on the bar's
Besides the aforementioned pizza boxes at Portland Pie, I know the Pratt Abbott laundromat on the corners of Main and Seavey streets has a makeshift Salvation Army sign draped on the side of the building. Am I missing any other examples of The VIA Group's noteworthy ad campaign in Westbrook?

h/t: Portland Psst!

- John C.L. Morgan

More Allen's Talk

At the risk of getting too meta, Michele over at Strange Maine has a post on Allen's that sees my, uh, scholarship on Maine's best-selling drink and raises me a couple other sources, including this humorous nugget from an otherwise sober WaPo article:

At Raena's Pub in the northern city of Bangor,
bartender Carrie Smith said she can easily spot the brandy drinkers.
"Bleached-blonde, teased hair. . . They always play the 'Redneck Woman'
song" on the jukebox, she said, describing the typical drinker who orders a
"sombrero," or Allen's mixed with milk. Smith said she once saw a woman dump her
cocktail on the head of a beer-drinking man who referred to the drink by its
nickname, "fat ass in a glass."

Another article flagged by Michele is a 1997 PPH piece containing very similar concerns as the article cited above. And, though it seems articles zeroing in on Mainers' longtime love affair with Allen's usually possess too many juicy pull-quotes to choose just one, here's a sampling:
About six months ago, [Sanford detective Randy]
White spotted some graffiti on an old mill wall that confirmed Allen's
popularity among the town's teens. Sandwiched between a marijuana leaf and a
peace sign on the red-brick wall was a white spray-painted outline of a
three-foot-tall bottle. Inside the bottle, someone had scrawled the words:
Allen's Coffee Brandy. ''I wasn't surprised,'' White says. ''There are a
lot of people that worship that particular kind of brandy.''
- John C.L. Morgan

Tower of Song Festival Lineup

To celebrate the first anniversary of the Tower of Song Project, nine Portland bands and musicians will take turns Saturday, May 23 playing out of the Schwartz Building near Congress Square.

For more information about the Tower of Song Project, read
here and here. The lineup for tomorrow's festival is below:

Jesse Pilgrim
Chriss Sutherland
Anna's Ghost

Samuel James
Over a Cardboard Sea
Dilly Dilly and Sontiago

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper
Johnny Fountain and the Manes
Spencer and the School Spirit Mafia

- John C.L. Morgan

h/t: The Otter's Den, via NXT.

A Chance to Pick Up Other People's Litter

Westbrook's annual clean-up is scheduled for tomorrow morning.

Volunteers will meet at Riverbank Park at 9a, where they'll be assigned a portion of the city to scrub and be given the rakes, gloves, etc. to complete said scrubbing.

So if you need to fulfill some court-sanctioned community service, have an obsessive-compulsive urge you just cannot itch, are just plain 'ol public-minded, or--like me--feel guilty about not being required to contribute any sweat equity to your own yardwork, then come on down.

We'll leave a trash bag out for you.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. For an account of last year's effort, see here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Look at Sunset Ridge

Sunset Ridge has gently rolling hills, numerous
wetlands, pretty birches, wildlife and a membership that has doubled since last
year. It also has large sloped greens in remarkably good condition for the time
of the year, tree-lined fairways on most holes and four of the most challenging
par 3s around.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Step Away From the Wii (May 16, 2008)

Remembering Westbrook's First Police Chief


Westbrook Police Chief Pierre "Pete" Harnois rushed
to the side of the house. It would be the final, frantic sprint of a decidedly
fast-paced life: Hamlin shot the 32-year-old police chief through a cellar
window and killed him. That was the scene in Limerick 50 years ago today, when a
shocking murder, shootout and suicide left three dead and two injured. The
sensational event made headlines across the country and claimed the life of
Westbrook's first full-time police chief.
The paper has also dug into its archives to provide original articles describing the frenetic event (here and here).

(Update: The AJ has its own piece marking the anniversary of Harnois's death. Besides touching upon the slain chief's biography and the Limerick shootout, Ann Fisher focuses on how the event has factored into the training of today's law enforcement.)

- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Quote, Unquote: Mallory Shaughnessy

"Up north farmers will sometimes say what a good year it was for snowmobiling if they find more [Allen's Coffee-Flavored Brandy] bottles in the woods by their houses."

- Mallory Shaughnessy, coordinator at the Maine Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse, in an interview on MPBN's Maine Things Considered. The drink has now officially been used by defense attorneys, writers, and farmers to explain Maine.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Happy (Belated) Birthday, Maine (March 19, 2009)
Related: Quote of the Day (March 4, 2009)
Related: Only in Maine (August 15, 2008)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Strange Maine Highlights Unicorn Cove

Besides advertising Unicorn Cove's upcoming, ahem, Seminar on Psychic Self-Defense, Strange Maine has links to some media mentions Unicorn Cove has received over the years.

Alas, the Main Street business has removed its short film PROJECT AYNA-V from its YouTube page since I last scoured the Interwebs for Unicorn-related material, so I am unable to enrich your lives with about ten minutes of unbridled splendor.

- John C.L. Morgan

Freaky Bean Lone Blight on Lively Coffee Shop Scene

Not every coffee shop has survived the economic
downtown, though. Westbrook-based Freaky Bean, which had been on a fast growth
track after it opened in 2006, filed for bankruptcy last month and shut down the
last of its shops, which once numbered a half-dozen.
On a related note, word on the street has it that another coffee shop will attempt to reopen in Freaky Bean's old Main Street space. For what this rumor is worth, I haven't been able to nail down any details related to a timeline or ownership, but the name Chug-a-Mug (or some other spelling variation) has been floated about.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Freaky Bean Goes Kaput (April 8, 2009)
Related: Freaky Bean Closes Main Street (February 27, 2009)

Fundraiser for Taylor Children Scheduled for Saturday

Fundraiser organizers are setting up a trust fund
for the Taylor daughters, to ensure that all donations go directly to them and
family members, said Bob Graham, who is helping coordinate Saturday's event.
Graham said he is also hoping that grief counselors will donate their services
to help the Taylors.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: State Police: Taylor Deaths Caused by Murder-Suicide (April 30, 2009)
Related: Questions Still Surround Taylor Deaths (April 30, 2009)

Cycles and Coolattas and Beards, Oh My

If Gov. Baldacci's tea reception for motorcyclists last Tuesday doesn't convince you that today's motorcycle culture is more Wild Hogs than The Wild One, consider exhibit B: The two-wheeled, er, rebels at the Main Street Dunkin' Donuts who have made the authorities' proverbial hangout their own cooling spot for at least three summers now.

- John C.L. Morgan

Broadening Horizons: Urban Contra Dancing

Westbrook native Evan Carroll and his fiancee Sasha Salzberg star in this introduction to contra dancing.

- John C.L. Morgan

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why I Live in the Paper City, ctd.

Mother's Day brunch at The Frog and Turtle.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Why I Live in the Paper City, Draft One (April 27, 2009)

Letterboxing in the Paper City

The Sun Journal's Mark LaFlamme on his experience letterboxing in Westbrook:
When I scooped away a mound of wet pine needles and
stuck my hand into the hole, I expected one of two things: a reptile would bite
me or a tree spirit would grab my fingers and pull me down into some Tolkien
world where I'd be forced to slave for Keebler elves.
To learn more about letterboxing see here, and to learn more about letterboxing sites in Westbrook, see here.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Broadening Horizons: Geocaching (February 24, 2009)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Westbrook Politics: May 11- May 15, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Wescott Junior High School Re-Use Committee meeting
Cafeteria "A," Wescott Junior High School

Westbrook Together Days Planning Committee meeting
Westbrook City Hall, 2 York Street

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: May 3- May 9, 2009

High: 68F (May 8, May 9)
Low: 39F (May 3)
Precipitation: 2.08 inches
Previous Sunrise: 5:23a
Previous Sunset: 7:54p

High: 71F (May 1)
Low: 39F (May 3)
Precipitation: 2.17 inches

High: 92F (April 28)
Low: -16F (Januay 16)
Precipitation: 14.60 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Moving Day

Walker Memorial Library has organized a moving day this upcoming Saturday to transfer donated items from the recently-closed Warren Memorial Library.

Volunteer movers are welcome to pitch in by showing up at Warren at 9a.

- John C.L. Morgan

Down East Reviews Casa Novello

Down East:
With an eight-seat bar and a busy takeout operation
in addition to the seventy-five seats in its dining room, Casa Novéllo fosters
this kind of neighborly congeniality. And while Manoogian says the restaurant
draws regulars from Gorham and Windham, its heart is clearly in Westbrook.
Manoogian himself makes the bread daily, and even the batter on our fried
seafood was based on beer from local microbrewer David Geary.
h/t: Liz

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: The Paper City Foodie's Guide to Westbrook (April 3, 2009)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know the Westbrook Police Department is involved in one of only three SWAT teams in Maine?

According to this WMTW article, Westbrook's SWAT partnership with the Cumberland County Sheriffs Department is joined only by similar partnerships among the Biddeford, Old Orchard, and Saco departments and the recently-formalized collaboration among the Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, and South Portland departments.

- John C.L. Morgan

Historical Society's Postcard Collection Attracts Spotlight

The Westbrook Historical Society collects items of
history like postcards. The group recently received an entire volume of cards
from the St. Hyacinth Historical Society. St. Hyacinth's Catholic Church, which
had been on Brown Street in Westbrook, recently closed. "They told us to come
and pick up whatever we wanted," said Donna Conley, Westbrook Historical Society
president. "Members of the church helped build the card collection."
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: On Location: Westbrook Historical Society (June 24, 2008)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Augustan: Reps. Driscoll, Peoples Approve Same-Sex Marriage

Reps. Tim Driscoll (D-Westbrook) and Ann Peoples (D-Westbrook) each voted yea on LD 1020, a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.

The Maine House of Representatives approved the bill 89-57, so it's next stop will be Gov. John Baldacci's desk.

- John C.L. Morgan

(h/t: Maine Women's Lobby)

Related: State Sens. Bartlett and Brannigan Approve Same-Sex Marriage Bill (April 30, 2009)
Related: Westbrook Pastor Speaks Against Same-Sex Marriage Bill (April 22, 2009)

The Four Mules Reject Skybox--Again

The mayor and the City Council voted against
renewing the Skybox Bar and Grill's food sales license Monday, saying the
business would be a "nuisance" in the mostly residential Frenchtown
neighborhood. It was the second time the city's municipal officers voted the
license down, and the latest event in a nine-month battle between City Hall and
the Skybox's new owners, Allen and Lynn Moore. The Moores now hope that a judge
will order the city to grant the license, which the state requires for all bars.
They said the city is holding them to an unfair standard because the bar had
earned a reputation for rowdiness under past owners.
In the now-familiar 4-4 blocs, Councilors Aube (D-Ward 4), Gattine (D-Ward 2), O'Hara (R-At Large), and Rielly (D-Ward 1) voted against the licensing, while Mayor Chuluda (R) and Councilors Cramer (R-Ward 3), Foley (D-At Large), and Joyce (D-Ward 5) favored a renewal of Skybox's licensing.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Will City Council Reverse Skybox Vote? (May 4, 2009)

Broadening Horizons: Wojciech Kilar's "Orawa"

I first heard this Wojciech Kilar piece at a Portland Symphony Orchestra concert in February 2006 and find myself listening to it at least once a month. The Polish Kilar is probably best known for his scores of Dracula and The Pianist.

- John C.L. Morgan

Monday, May 4, 2009

Westbrook Resident Among Supporters of Non-Citizens' Right to Vote

Martin Sungoyo says he has lived in Maine for 10
years and considers Westbrook his home. "In our school I believe we are doing a
diservice to multicultural families by allowing students to graduate high school
with insufficient reading, writing, and math skill. But we cannot vote for
members of my school committee that will push higher standards and better
educational opportunities for our students."
- John C.L. Morgan

Will City Council Reverse Skybox Vote?

The Westbrook City Council will have the
opportunity to avoid a lawsuit against the city by overturning a vote to deny
Skybox Bar and Grill its license to serve food. Skybox owner Allen Moore filed a
suit against the city last week for denying him licenses to serve food, have a
pinball machine and have a pool room, effectively shutting down the bar, because
the state requires food to be served anywhere liquor is served.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Bar Talk (April 8, 2009)
Related: Owner of Skybox Threatens to Sue City (April 8, 2009)
Related: And the Beat Goes On... (April 7, 2009)

Down East Mines Westbrook History for Trivia

Quick, what exotic fabric was once produced in Maine?

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Silky Smooth (January 13, 2009)
Related: Bite-Sized Review: American Silk (July 18, 2008)

Don't Drink (Soap) and Fly

Kansas City Star:

A British woman accused of downing prescription
drugs, two or three bottles of wine and liquid soap from a London-bound
jetliner's lavatory before scuffling with flight attendants will remain in jail
in Maine over the weekend. Prosecutors say Galina Rusanova punched and kicked
attendants on the Chicago-based United Airlines flight. They say she snapped
"like a dog" while trying to bite one.
While some might pooh-pooh such anti-social behavior, I prefer to think about the economic benefits such antics bring to Maine.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Quote, Unquote: Trevor Corson (March 18, 2009)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Westbrook Politics: May 4- May 8, 2009

Monday, May 4
Finance Committe meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

City Council meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

Wednesday, May 6
Zoning Board of Appeals
Westbrook High School, Room 114

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: April 26- May 2, 2009

High: 92F (April 28)
Low: 32F (April 30)
Precipitation: 0.09 inches
Previous Sunrise: 5:32a
Previous Sunset: 7:46p

High: 71F (May 1)
Low: 43F (May 2)
Precipitation: 0.09 inches

High: 92F (April 28)
Low: -16F (Januay 16)
Precipitation: 12.52 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, May 1, 2009

Warren Knight: Pike Is Attempting to Intimidate Smiling Hill Farm

According to a press release from Warren Knight of Smiling Hill Farm, Pike's law firm has subpoenaed him for material related to the company's lawsuit against the City of Westbrook, a move that Knight equates with intimidation and harassment:

This is an effort to intimidate and silence an
abutting landowner attempting to exercise their right to speak honestly and
openly concerning local land-use decisions. I have never been subjected to this
level of harassment. It is difficult enough for private citizens to stand up in
public and speak. It is shameful to make it more difficult by exploiting the
legal system to intimidate us from exercising this basic right.
In the remainder of the tersely written release (which was ironically drafted on Smiling Hill Farm letterhead accentuated with jolly bubble letters promising "We'll put a smile on your face!"), Knight declares Smiling Hill Farm's lack of interest in selling its land to Pike ("Smiling Hill Farm is not interested in exploiting our land to the detriment of our neighbors, our loyal customers, or our community. We will resist every effort by Pike to drive us out of business and seize our small farm."), accuses some citizens of receiving a stipend to testify at public hearings on Pike's behalf ("I know that times are tough, but accepting money to speak on behalf of Pike perverts our system of participatory local government. Both tactics: using the legal system to intimidate citizens with opposing views and giving money to citizens to speak on their behalf makes a mockery of our long-standing Maine tradition of open town meetings."), and reiterates the farm's opposition to Pike's proposal to expand its Spring Street quarry ("If we were a confinement feedlot operation the constant blasting wouldn't be as big a problem. But our cows are free-range, grazing loose in pastures. The cows panic and can stampede from the blasting. We are unwilling to lock our animals indoors and feed them processed food in order to accommodate Pike's blasting.")

(Update: According to the PPH, Pike has also issued subpoenas to Artel Inc., Idexx, and New Age Media. For their part, Pike's lawyers at Preti Flaherty Beliveau and Pachios LLP say such subpoenas are standard legal practice, not a tool of harassment or intimidation.)

- John C.L. Morgan

Full disclosure: My wife works for Idexx.

Related: More on the Rock 'N Road Tour '09 (April 28, 2009)
Related: On the Rock 'N Road Tour '09 (April 24, 2009)
Related: Pike v. Idexx et al Goes Viral (April 23, 2009)