Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On Moxie

For someone raised on it, sipping a Moxie is a
symbolic act, a performance of one’s "Maineness." It’s the Louisianian sucking
the head of a crawfish. The debate over the relative merits of Memphis, Texas,
and Carolina barbecues. The Tennessean passing on an iced tea in a chain
restaurant because it’s not "sweet tea."
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Them Are Fightin' Words (January 17, 2010)

On The French Press Eatery's Donuts

Portland Phoenix:

These doughnuts are something else. They would be tall even if the hole was not
perched on top. The “Elvis”--topped with bananas, halved and stuffed with peanut
butter, and covered in chocolate, looked like some kind of sundae. Even through
all the accoutrements, you could sense the fundamental soundness of the doughnut
itself--the golden, crunchy-but-not-oily exterior, the dense-but-not-heavy
interior, the not-too-sweet dough absorbing the rich chocolate sauce.

- John C.L. Morgan

h/t: Portland Food Map

Related: Two Cheers for the French Press Eatery's Donuts (February 24, 2010)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Maine on C-SPAN

The Tipping Point:
C-Span now has their complete archives online, in
an easily watchable format. Along with hours of boring House and Senate
proceedings, there’s also an interesting slice of political life in Maine for
the past two decades, everything from
John McKernan’s
as governor in 1991 to a health care
panel discussion with Maine health policy director Trish Riley
held last week.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Broadening Horizons: Brian Lamb (April 21, 2009)

Bustlin' Bill Returns from Egypt

Westbrook's Police Chief William Baker has returned
from the Middle East, where he presented a three-day workshop on international
police standards. Baker made his presentation, sponsored by the U.S. Department
of State and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, to 30 high ranking members of the
Egyptian Security Services.
- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Woman Organizes Topless March in Portland

It's called "Portland's First Ever Female-Bodied
and Allied Topless Adventure." Put more simply, an expected 30 or more women,
along with "allied" male sympathizers, plan to walk from Longfellow Square down
Congress Street to Tommy's Park at the top of the Old Port with nothing on from
the waist up.
It's simple, explained organizer Ty MacDowell, 20,
of Westbrook, in an interview Friday. On a personal level, MacDowell likes to
swim during the summer at East End Beach and has always yearned to do so
topless. Beyond that, she and her fellow adventurers want to expose what they
see as a glaring double standard.
- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Westbrook Politics: March 29- April 2, 2010

Wednesday, March 31
Spring Street Quarry/Industrial Zone Steering Committee
City Hall, 2 York Street

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: March 21- March 27, 2010

High: 56F (March 25)
Low: 19F (March 27)
Precipitation: 3.52 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches
Previous Sunrise: 6:32a
Previous Sunset: 7:02p

High: 70F (March 20)
Low: 19F (March 29)
Precipitation: 6.71 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches

High: 70F (March 20)
Low: -1F (January 10)
Precipitation: 15.80 inches
Snowfall: 24.8 inches

National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, March 26, 2010


- John C.L. Morgan

Judge Rules City Councilor Was Biased in Skybox Vote


A judge has ruled that Westbrook City Councilor Dorothy Aube was biased when she
voted last year against granting licenses to the Skybox Bar and Grill. The
council is set to decide on April 5 whether to grant the owners the licenses it
denied twice last year. David A. Lourie, the lawyer for Skybox owners Allen and
Lynn Moore, said they were denied their request for an injunction to prevent
Aube from voting on the licenses. But he said that if Aube's vote produces a tie
or a majority vote to deny the licenses, the Moores will have grounds to appeal.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: City, Skybox Can't Reach an Agreement (February 12, 2010)
Related: The Four Mules Reject Skybox--Again (May 5, 2009)

Q&A with the New Director of Community Services

Westbrook School Committee member Maria Dorn has resigned as an elected official
to become the city’s first director of community services, a new position
created by Mayor Colleen Hilton. Hilton announced at her inauguration in January
she was eliminating the job of recreation director in favor of creating of more
comprehensive community services department.
- John C.L. Morgan

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Panel Explores Ways to Mitigate Impacts of Pike's Blasting

A committee that's seeking a compromise to satisfy residents and businesses
while allowing Pike Industries to remain in Westbrook examined ways to minimize
the impact that blasting at Pike's Spring Street quarry would have on neighbors.
The committee met for three hours Wednesday night with Mark Stebbins, the Maine
Department of Environmental Protection's mining coordinator.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Environmental Group: Pike's Blasting Will Unsettle Toxins (March 17, 2010)

Westbrook Hurlers Look to Pitch Team Into States

Opponents, if not tired of them after last season, could be tired of them after
this season and certainly next. [Scott] Heath, a left-hander, and [Sean] Murphy,
a right-hander, are juniors and arguably the best 1-2 pitching combination in
the state. "I don't know of two better," said Westbrook Coach Mike Rutherford.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: On Location: Westbrook High School (June 11, 2009)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Presumpscot is 'Usual Suspect' for Flooding

Relentless rain that has prompted flood warnings in some areas have some
residents worried after several inches of rain piled up throughout southern and
central Maine. The Saccarappa Falls rushed fast Tuesday as Cumberland County was
one of many counties under flood warnings.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Storm Damage (February 26, 2010)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Maine Musings

Colin McGee, a Paper City resident from South Africa by way of Vermont, has been blogging since January.

McGee, who I initially met at the literary hangout that is Skybox, has so far mused on the challenges of an aspiring ex-smoker, posted a semi-autobiographical look back at life on an South African farm, and waxed philosophically about towns dotted along harbors. My favorite post, though, is "Crows," which perfectly captures the inertia of long wintry days in the 'Brook. To wit:
Tomorrow I’m going to wake early, maybe even wake
the dog early too, and leave my sleepy wife to walk the pup in the crispness.
Home to bacon, and eggs, and a morning filled with activity so I can chill all
afternoon. I’ll earn my nap, with a warm and snoring dog across my legs. Well,
that’s the plan. More likely I’ll stay up late, enjoy the inside warmth of my
home when it’s cold and shitty outside, and drink too much whisky. All the while
telling myself how good the day will be. How much I’ll accomplish. I’ll clean
the basement, tidy my life, cook a glorious meal for my bride and spend an
evening filled with conversation and love and time.
You can follow Colin at Maine Musings.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: A Model of Persistence (February 24, 2010)
Related: Cross-Pollination (February 5, 2010)

Trail from Sebago to Casco Bay is 80 Percent Complete, Has Gaps in Westbrook

The group [Sebago to Sea coalition] this year plans to install its first signs
marking the trail. So far, 80 percent of the trail is finished, said Tania
Neuschafer, who is coordinating the Sebago to the Seas Trail project. There are
large gaps in downtown Westbrook, Portland's Back Cove neighborhood and the area
near where the Maine Turnpike crosses the Presumpscot River.
- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Westbrook Politics: March 22- March 26, 2010

Monday, March 22
City Council meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

Wednesday, March 24
Spring Street Quarry/Industrial Zone Steering Committee
City Hall, 2 York Street


- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: March 14- March 20, 2010

High: 70F (March 20)
Low: 30F (March 16)
Precipitation: 3.19 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches
Previous Sunrise: 6:45a
Previous Sunset: 6:54p

High: 70F (March 20)
Low: 20F (March 10)
Precipitation: 3.57 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches

High: 70F (March 20)
Low: -1F (January 10)
Precipitation: 12.66 inches
Snowfall: 24.8 inches

National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jimi Who?

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Middle School to Host Gubernatorial Debate Mar. 24

Republican gubernatorial candidates will debate one another at the Westbrook Middle School's Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, March 24 from 7p-9p.

The debate, which will be co-hosted by radio talk show hosts Ray Richardson and Ted Talbot, will be broadcast on WLOB 95.5FM and WPME-TV (channel 17). The seven candidates who are scheduled to participate are: Steve Abbott, Bill Beardsley, Matt Jacobson, Peter Mills, Paul LePage, Les Otten, and Bruce Poliquin.

The event is free.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Are Too Many Candidates a Bad Thing? (January 12, 2010)

Fired Firefighter Reinstated by State Board

A state labor board has overturned the firing
of Matthew Lamontagne, a Westbrook firefighter who lost his job after an
investigation into allegations of sexual harassment in the fire department. The
Maine Board of Arbitration and Conciliation ruled that the city's decision to
fire Lamontagne in December was unfair because the city had agreed to limit his
discipline for alleged sexual harassment as a result of a previous
investigation. It also ruled that the incident for which Lamontagne was fired
did not constitute harassment.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Fired (December 9, 2009)

Greenpeace Claims Westbrook Energy Center Poses a Risk to Public

As part of a national campaign to raise awareness
about chemical security issues, the environmental group Greenpeace today warned
that six industrial facilities in Maine each pose a disaster risk to 10,000 or
more local residents. The group is hoping those facilities will either choose,
or be forced, to switch to safer chemicals, and adopt new processes that would
be less vulnerable in the event of a terrorist attack.
They include the Westbrook Energy Center in
Westbrook; Domtar paper company Baileyville; Old Town Fuel and Fiber in Old
Town; a Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Lewiston; and the Fairchild
Semiconductor Corporation in South Portland.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Nightmare Scenario (November 18, 2009)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Walker to Warren?

Nearly a year after the Warren Memorial Library’s controversial closure, the
building is going up for sale--and a likely buyer could be the city as a new
home for the Walker Memorial Library. Rene Daniel, spokesman for the Warren
Memorial Foundation’s board of trustees, said the building has become too costly
to operate and is depleting the foundation’s endowment. "We did not want to sell
the building," Daniel said. "We’re trying to save as much of the fund as we
- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Environmental Group: Pike's Blasting Will Unsettle Toxins


A leading New England environmental group says Pike Industries of Westbrook will
be violating state regulations should it go ahead with plans to expand its
blasting operations in the Five Star Industrial Park. Toxics Actions Center has
joined up with a group of Westbrook residents to voice their concern as part of
an ongoing struggle between Pike and certain local businesses and residents who
oppose the gravel company's excavation practices.
(Update: The PPH has more on this story.)

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Pike Rezoning Committee Meets with Residents (February 25, 2010)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Middle School Dedication and Tours Scheduled for Mar. 20

The newly-built Westbrook Middle School will be dedicated at 12p on Saturday, March 20, and tours of the school will follow the dedication ceremony.


- John C.L. Morgan

Related: More on Middle School's First Day of Classes (January 21, 2010)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Maine Turns 190-Years-Old Today

Maine became the 23rd state admitted to the Union on this day 190 years ago, thanks in large part to the Missouri Compromise.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Happy (Belated) Birthday, Maine (March 19, 2009)
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)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Westbrook Politics: March 15- March 19, 2010

No public meetings are scheduled this week.

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: March 8- March 14, 2010

High: 56F (March 8)
Low: 20F (March 10)
Precipitation: 2.27 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches
Previous Sunrise: 6:56a
Previous Sunset: 6:46p

High: 56F (March 8)
Low: 20F (March 10)
Precipitation: 2.65 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches

High: 56F (March 10)
Low: -1F (January 10)
Precipitation: 11.74 inches
Snowfall: 24.8 inches

National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, March 12, 2010


From Chester Chase's collection of videos from Whitefield, Maine, circa 1950.

- John C.L. Morgan

h/t: All Things Maine

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Disability RMS to Add Jobs

Disability RMS of Westbrook, the nation’s leading provider of turnkey disability
risk management products and services, today announced that it has formed an
Administrative Services division. The expansion will result in 18 new jobs, the
company said.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Number of Westbrook Manufacturing Jobs Holds Steady Amid Statewide Decline (January 20, 2010)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Parking Issues

Westbrook officials and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland are negotiating
an arrangement to alleviate parking concerns at St. Anthony of Padua Parish and
provide much-needed space for nearby businesses and residents. But a plan to
develop 132 apartments in the nearby Dana Warp Mill could leave many drivers
circling the block.
- John C.L. Morgan

Cross-Pollination, Take Two

Though it was written with the soccer fan in mind, my review of the books Outcasts United and New Mainers over at the Pine-Scented Pitch is informative (if I may say so myself) about the increasing diversity in the Pine Tree State and the Paper City. To wit:
Indeed, according to statistics provided by the Westbrook School Department,
there at least twenty-one different languages spoken in the schools'
classrooms.* And the number of students participating in the school district's
English for Speakers of Other Languges (ESOL) program has steadily increased
over the last decade: A little more than twenty students were enrolled in the
program in 2000; today, there are almost 120 enrollees, a ten-year increase of
about 500%. The capability to view the school district's Web site in seven
different languages, after all, was not developed in a vacuum.
- John C.L. Morgan

Cross-Pollination (February 5, 2010)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Walker Memorial Library's Renovation Could Cost $1.5 Million

The historic building that houses Walker Memorial Library needs $1.5 million in
repairs, according to a consultant hired by the city. A report from Building
Envelope Consultants says the 1893 Queen Anne-style library needs repairs to the
slate roofing system and bricks in the front of the building, which are loose,
deteriorated and have moss growth. The report also says a floor on the first
floor tested positive for asbestos. It says there is lead-based paint on many
walls, and walls and ceilings in the basement area tested positive for mold
- John C.L. Morgan

Chuluda to Challenge Driscoll for State House Seat

Former Republican mayor Bruce Chuluda will challenge Democratic State Rep. Tim Driscoll this fall for the privilege of serving Westbrook in the Maine House of Representatives.

The race for House Seat #126 sets up a rematch of the City Council, Ward 2 race from 2001, an election that saw the political newcomer Chuluda defeat the incumbent Driscoll, 53%-46% (402-358).

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Michael Lawson to Challenge Ann Peoples for House Seat (February 24, 2010)

On Westbrook Middle School's Public Art

Sometime after ice-out this spring, Portland artist Aaron Stephan will hop in a
truck with a buddy and travel north to Moosehead Lake and the headwaters of the
Kennebec River.They will scavenge for old-growth logs left over from the logging
boom, buried in the mud in the depths below the surface. Hundreds of years ago,
these trees were felled and prepared for transport, but were lost before making
their way downriver. Masked from the light above, the heavy maple logs are
preserved at the bottom of the lake. Stephan aims to raise a bunch of them for
his latest art project, "RE: turn," at the newly opened Westbrook Middle School.
A Web site featuring Stephan's work (including one of my favorite pieces of public art, LIFT) can be seen here.

- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Westbrook Politics: March 8- March 12, 2010

Monday, March 8
Facilities and Streets Committee meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: March 1- March 7, 2010

High: 54F (March 6, March 7)
Low: 26F (March 6, March 7)
Precipitation: 0.38 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches
Previous Sunrise: 6:08a
Previous Sunset: 5:38p

High: 54F (March 6, March 7)
Low: 26F (March 6, March 7)
Precipitation: 6.52 inches
Snowfall: 3.20 inches

High: 54F (March 6, March 7)
Low: -1F (January 10)
Precipitation: 9.44 inches
Snowfall: 24.8 inches

National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, March 5, 2010

Das Boinkt Up

I've been snarky in the past when writing about Unicorn Cove (see here and here, for example), but this is mostly a serious post.

Congratulations are in order to Ahura Z. Diliiza for having his song, "Das Boinkt Up," embedded into the upcoming XBox 360 game Avatar Boogie. A short clip of the song can be heard from 0:10-0:16 in the video above.

Now if only I could get the damn thing out of my head.

- John C.L. Morgan

Skybox Patrons Raise Funds for Ill Child

According to Skybox Bar and Grill co-owner Al Moore, patrons of the bar raised more than $1,500 on Sunday to help the family of Emily Labrecque Thurston, a two-year-old recently diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer.

- John C.L. Morgan

Full disclosure: My wife and I received a $10 gift certificate from Northern Gardens due to our participation in the various raffles Skybox staff organized in order to raise the funds.

Peek-A-Boo, I Praise You

Cute Potato:
There are several indoor play spaces popping up in Southern Maine these days,
and we are thrilled by the prospects. Although, we must admit, we’re a little
biased when it comes to the Peek-a-Boo Children’s Center in Westbrook. Our
friend, Marina Waisman, is the co-owner, which makes us instant devotees, but
it’s clear that this play space is a labor of love.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Two New Family-Friendly Facilities Poised to Open in Westbrook (February 3, 2010)

High School Students Repair Laptops for Ill Children

Children battling serious illnesses in the hospital
can often feel isolated from their friends and family. A group of high school
students in Westbrook is working to change that. "If it is a really old laptop,
then we may have to do a Frankenstein thing and take them apart to figure out
what is wrong," commented Weipo Huang, a senior enrolled in the computer repair
class at Westbrook Regional High School.
- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

City Names Interim Fire Chief, Tries to Reconcile Costs


At a news conference Wednesday, Mayor Colleen Hilton introduced Michael Pardue,
of Kennebunk-based Central Intelligence, one of two consulting firms the city
hired while it continues to search for full-time leadership.
For their part, WCSH
has footage from the press conference.

And in other WFD news, the
AJ is reporting on the costs associated with the City's attempts to turnaround the department:
On Monday alone, the City CounciI supported
spending money--likely as much as $100,000--on insurance deductibles for two
sexual harassment claims, attorneys' fees for a special legal project and
contracts with two outside management companies - all costly items city
officials say are necessary for turning around the fire department.
- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Republicans to Meet Mar. 6

Westbrook Republicans will be hosting its caucus this Saturday morning at 10a.

Taking place in the Westbrook Middle School cafeteria, the caucus will consist of approving by-laws, electing Westbrook Republican City Committee officers, electing representatives to the Cumberland County Republican Committee, and electing delegates to the state convention.

Registered Republicans and unaffiliated/unregistered Westbrook residents who are interested in enrolling in the Republican Party are encouraged to attend.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Westbrook Democratic Caucus: The Bold-Faced Edition (February 10, 2008)
Related: Westbrook Republican Caucus: The Bold-Faced Edition (February 2, 2008)

Westbrook Baller Named Finalist for Mr. Basketball

The boys' finalists are Dominic Borelli of
Westbrook, Stefano Mancini of Falmouth, Indiana Faithfull of Cheverus and Keegan
Hyland of South Portland. The girls' finalists include Christy Manning of
Scarborough and Claire Ramonas of Deering. The lone finalist from outside
southern Maine is Jen Nale of Waterville. Only seniors are eligible for Mr. and
Miss Basketball. The winners will be announced at the Maine McDonald's High
School Senior All-Star awards banquet March 12 at Husson University in
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: My Best ESPN Impersonation (February 19, 2010)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

City Officials Weigh Leadership Options for Fire Department

City councilors met in executive session Monday
night to consider contracts for hiring an interim leadership team for the city's
Fire and Rescue Department. Mayor Colleen Hilton asked the City Council to
consider hiring Central Intelligence, a management recruitment firm in
Kennebunk, to provide the city with a fire chief. The council will consider
hiring Municipal Resources Inc., of Meredith, N.H., to provide a deputy fire
chief. City officials have scheduled a news conference Wednesday at the Public
Safety Building to announce who will lead the department temporarily.
- John C.L. Morgan

Schools Broaden Course Selection Through Online Classes

With school budgets as tight as ever, it might be
hard to believe that Westbrook High School has expanded its curriculum by 250
courses, including investing in the stock market, American popular music and
Portuguese. But the school department hasn't hired new teachers. The courses are
being offered online through a program called Virtual High School.
- John C.L. Morgan

Full disclosure: I'm interning at Westbrook High School.

Monday, March 1, 2010

City's Retail Vacancy Rate the Lowest in Greater Portland


[A] recent study showed that Westbrook's vacancy rate for large retail spaces,
at 3 percent, is remarkably lower than that of its neighbors. With the larger
lots filled, city officials are hoping that new businesses looking to locate in
Westbrook will start filling in the empty spaces on Main Street. Around the
middle of the last decade, downtown started to look like it was making a
comeback. The Dana Warp Mill had drawn an array of businesses and the new
Disability RMS office building brought an onslaught of workers--and their lunch
money--onto Main Street.

- John C.L. Morgan

Local Church to Host Haiti Benefit Dinner

The Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church is hosting a dinner to benefit victims of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti on Saturday, March 6.

The dinner, which will consist of corned beef and cabbage, takes place at 6p and will cost $10 per person. Dr. Sam Broaddus of the non-profit healthcare provider Konbit Sante and Westbrook Police Chief Bill Baker will each speak at the event.

To reserve a seat, call (207) 854-9157.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Chief Baker Concerned for Haitian Friends (January 13, 2010)