Friday, April 30, 2010


Producers of a film on the Wyeths are lobbying Maine's state government for enough financial perks to allow them to film some of the $7 million production along the Maine coast.

More information about the family can be found at the Farnsworth Museum's Wyeth Center in Rockland. In the meantime, I recommend Edgar Allen Beem's April 2009 essay on Andrew Wyeth's legacy, which captures the ambivalence toward Wyeth's work, much like the video embedded above.

- John C.L. Morgan

Donahue and Hyland

Understand that in his youth, [former Westbrook basketball standout Matt]
Donahue could find pickup games in Westbrook, where he lived, anytime he wanted.
That's not always true today, in Westbrook, Portland or anywhere. "It was
survival of the fittest. You didn't leave until you lost." Donahue had the rep
of a pure shooter. That was before he scored 57 points against Deering High one
night in a crowded gym. That was before there was a 3-point line. Donahue set
the benchmark that night. "From the beginning, Keegan [Hyland] wanted to play
college basketball at the highest level," said Donahue. "Duke might have been
the school he first mentioned. He asked me what he needed to do.
Hyland is a standout from SoPo who recently announced his acceptance of a scholarship to Gonzaga, a perennial participant in March Madness.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Did You Know? (February 11, 2009)
Related: Did You Know? (January 14, 2009)

Consensus Has Not Been Reached After All

My quick read of yesterday's PPH article on the Pidexx task force's nearly unanimous decision to limit the number of annual blasts Pike could use at their Spring Street quarry yielded the impression that the compromise was accepted--albeit reluctantly--by most stakeholders. Such an interpretetation, evidently, was inaccurrate.

Despite the task force's 8-1 vote in favor of limiting the number of Pike's annual blasts to 8 (former mayor Bruce Chuluda chose not to vote and thus did not join City Councilor John O'Hara as a dissenter, as was previously reported), the panel responsible for crafting a compromise was evidently all over the map when it came to its members' preferences. Moreover, despite the public comments in yesterday's paper that suggested--to this reader anyway--that both Idexx and Pike had accepted the panel's decree, it appears both companies are still ambivalent--publicly, at least--about how they really feel about the board's decision.

So the beat goes on. In the meantime, please excuse me while I clean some egg off my face for my overly optimistic headline yesterday.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Panel's Compromise Appears to Satisfy Most Stakeholders (April 29, 2010)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Panel's Compromise Appears to Satisfy Most Stakeholders

A task force that was formed to find a way to let high-tech industries coexist
with a rock quarry in the Five Star Industrial Park decided late Wednesday night
to recommend limiting Pike Industries to eight blasts a year. The 10-member
panel reached its decision after a public hearing on the issue that drew more
than 100 residents. Former Mayor Bruce Chuluda and City Councilor John O'Hara
cast the only dissenting votes.
- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

'Czar' Reed and the Spanish-American War


As [author Evan] Thomas puts it, Thomas Brackett
Reed is a "pretty obscure figure" today. But at the time, he was one of the most
powerful and outspoken opponents of the war. The Maine congressman and speaker
of the House managed, for a time, to keep the House from voting on the war, but
in the end, he couldn't hold out. "It broke his heart. At the end, he didn't
even show up to vote," Thomas says. Reed's career fell as quickly as
[Theodore] Roosevelt's rose: "He couldn't understand what this war fever was
about. I think he had common sense. But he was the loser. As society got swept
up, he was the guy who lost out." After America went to war, Reed resigned from
Congress. He died in 1902.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: How Maine Influenced Theodore Roosevelt (February 24, 2010)

Proposed Budget Would Not Raise Tax Rate

City Administrator Jerre Bryant presented a $56.7 million budget to the City
Council on Monday, and councilors confirmed the appointment of Westbrook's new
chief financial officer. If the budget for 2010-11 is approved as proposed, the
city's property tax rate will remain at $16.70 per $1,000 of assessed value.
City officials anticipate about $25.8 million in non-property tax revenues, a
slight reduction over this year, but say the budget will not raise property
taxes. The city's total expenditures, for schools, municipal services and the
county budget, are proposed at $56,631,139.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Westbrook Taxes: 2008 v. 1958 (March 18, 2009)
Related: Westbrook Taxes (January 31, 2008)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

Smithsonian mag:
How did it happen? How did a freedom-loving people
decide to give up a private right that had been freely exercised by
millions since the first European colonists arrived in the New World? How did
they condemn to extintion what was, at the very moment of its death, the
fifth-largest industry in the nation? How did they append to their most sacred
document 112 words that knew only one precedent in American history? With that
single previous exception, the original Constitution and its first 17 amendments
concerned the activities of government, not citizens. Now there were two
exceptions: you couldn't own slaves, and you couldn't buy alcohol.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: When Barrels of Rum Were On Sidewalks and Water Was Free (February 10, 2008)

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Look at Pike's Bedrock

In the eons that followed, heat and pressure formed a rock deposit that's very
hard and dense. The result: The rock in the Spring Street quarry is some of the
highest-grade raw material in southern Maine for making hot mix asphalt, the
road surface on which we drive. It exceeds the Maine Department of
Transportation's basic requirements for durability and weather resistance.
- John C.L. Morgan

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Westbrook Politics: April 26- April 30, 2010

Monday, April 26
City Council meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

Wednesday, April 28
Spring Street Quarry/Industrial Zone Steering Committee
City Hall, 2 York Street

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: April 18- April 24, 2010

High: 67F (April 20)
Low: 32F (April 19)
Precipitation: 0.08 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches
Previous Sunrise: 5:43a
Previous Sunset: 7:37p

High: 85F (April 8)
Low: 31F (April 14)
Precipitation: 1.11 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches

High: 85F (April 8)
Low: -1F (January 10)
Precipitation: 21.44 inches
Snowfall: 24.8 inches

National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, April 23, 2010

No Reservations

Anthony Bourdain's show "No Reservations" is a personal favorite, so it's only natural that I'd feature the first part of the show's episode of Maine, which was aired on national television earlier this month. Parts 2, 3, 4, and 5 can be seen here, here, here, and here respectively.

- John C.L. Morgan

City Hires New Finance Chief

Westbrook has selected its first chief financial officer for the city and school
department. A former finance director for municipalities in New Hampshire, Dawn
Ouellette will start working in Westbrook on May 3, pending approval from the
City Council Monday and from the School Committee Wednesday.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Q&A with New Director of Community Services (March 26, 2010)
Related: Hilton Wastes No Time Shaking Things Up (January 4, 2010)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Find of the Day

All Things Maine has unearthed an 1870 news clip describing the Fat Men's Convention held that year in Auburn Hall:

The Committee announced that they would proceed to weigh the fattest men and
conduct the contest for the prize. It was agreed that the prize lay between Mr.
Brackett of North Hermon, and Mr. Haven of Chelsea. Those gentlemen were
escorted from the rostrum which trembled under their tread, amid uproars of
applause, and the Committee proceeded to their duty. The scales were Fairbanks',
noted for their accuracy, courteously furnished for the occasion by Messrs. Owen
& Little of this city.
My self-esteem's officially been dampened a little bit, given that my 5'11" 210-pound frame would fit right in with this 19th-century meeting of the bods.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Old Westbrook, By Way of Old Lewiston (February 18, 2010)
Related: Prince of the Poor Man's Media: Or, This Week's Episode in Shameless Self-Promotion (April 6, 2009)

Compromise in Pidexx Donnybrook Remains Elusive

The committee [Mayor Colleen Hilton] formed to craft [a] compromise met
Wednesday and recommended a list of safeguards to protect residents and
surrounding businesses from the adverse effects of mining. The recommendations
will be the subject of a public hearing next week, and may eventually be
forwarded to the City Council. But on the crucial issue of how much
blasting--and by extension how much mining and associated activity--can occur at
Pike Industries' quarry, the committee remains divided.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Number of Blasts is Sticking Point in 'Pidexx' Conflict (April 12, 2010)

Monday, April 19, 2010

On Riverbank Park's Monument

Most anything you wanted to know about the monument honoring America's soldiers in Riverbank Park can be read here.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: The Riverbank Park Reader (March 27, 2009)

Westbrook Performing Arts Center to Host Gubernatorial Debate Apr. 21

Democratic gubernatorial candidates will debate one another at the Westbrook Middle School's Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, April 21 from 7p-9p.

The event is free.

- John C.L. Morgan

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

Westbrook Politics: April 19- April 23, 2010

Wednesday, April 21
Spring Street Quarry/Industrial Zone Steering Committee
City Hall, 2 York Street

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: April 11- April 17, 2010

High: 64F (April 14)
Low: 31F (April 14)
Precipitation: 0.53 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches
Previous Sunrise: 5:54a
Previous Sunset: 7:29p

High: 85F (April 8)
Low: 31F (April 14)
Precipitation: 1.03 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches

High: 85F (April 7)
Low: -1F (January 10)
Precipitation: 21.36 inches
Snowfall: 24.8 inches

National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, April 16, 2010

Weekend Forecast

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Longfellow in Everyday Life (March 10, 2010)

Q&A With Westbrook's Award-Winning Athletic Director

From Todd Sampson's interview with the AJ:
I think it is clear we need to continue to prove
quality experiences to all of our students in both athletics and activities with
less and less resources. I am a firm believer that coaching is teaching and
athletics just uses the courts and playing fields as its classroom. I am
extremely fortunate that the Westbrook community believes this and continues to
support these co-curricular events for our kids. The athletic administrators
across the state will continue to look for ways to save our communities tax
dollars while still producing a quality experience for students.
- John C.L. Morgan

L.L. Bean Shooting Catalog in Westbrook

When you're flipping through an L.L. Bean catalog
this fall, look closely at the scenes of home furniture and bedroom sets.
Through a window, you might just spot some trees from Westbrook. That's because
all the photography of new L.L. Bean products is now being done at a studio on
Thomas Drive.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Westbrook to Host L.L. Bean's Imagemakers (February 16, 2010)
Related: On Location: 41 Wharf Street, Portland (February 5, 2008)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Governor Gets Involved in Pidexx Donnybrook

Baldacci invited Mayor Colleen Hilton and several
other state and city officials to the State House on Friday to discuss the
situation. His office said the meeting came after the governor discussed the
expansion plan with the head of Idexx. The governor doesn't recall whether he or
the Idexx executive suggested the meeting, said David Farmer, Baldacci's
spokesman. Jonathan W. Ayers, president and chief executive officer of Idexx,
did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday, but another Idexx official said
the company didn't request the meeting.
- John C.L. Morgan

Old Maps

The David Rumsey Map Collection has an online collection of 222 vintage Maine maps.

- John C.L. Morgan

h/t: All Things Maine

Related: Westbrook Company Has Popular Map App (October 20, 2009)

Westbrook-Based Organization Criticizes Gun Demonstration

"This a growing national movement, so he (Belanger)
is not alone," said Cathie Whittenburg, director of the Westbrook-based New
England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. Whittenburg said there is an
open-carry rally scheduled for Monday near Washington, D.C. Open-carry advocates
plan to stand on the banks of the Potomac River because while it is legal to
carry a weapon openly in Virginia, it is not legal in the nation's capital. "We
think open carry is a bad idea for Maine. It's intimidating. How are people
supposed to know what your intentions are." Whittenburg asked.
- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Football Coach Will Help Coach Senior All-Star Team

Kevin Cooper of Bonny Eagle of Standish will coach
the West squad, assisted by Matt Perkins of Windham, John Suttie of Bony Eagle,
Steve Stinson of South Portland, Scott Descoteaux of Biddeford, John Caverly of
Marshwood of Eliot, Brad Bishop of Livermore Falls, Bangor native Jeff Guerrette
of Westbrook and Aaron Fileo of Cape Elizabeth.
- John C.L. Morgan

Monday, April 12, 2010

Number of Blasts is Sticking Point in 'Pidexx' Conflict

[A]n official from Idexx said the company continues
to want rezoning instead. That zoning would limit the annual number of blasts in
the quarry to an average of the number set off over the previous five years. The
Idexx official, facilities manager Dick Daigle, said that would mean about five
blasts a year, although Westbrook's city engineer said the number could be
closer to 10. Pike officials said anything less than 20 blasts a year would so
limit the amount of rock it could mine from the quarry that it wouldn't make
financial sense to keep it operating.
- John C.L. Morgan

Organizer of Topless March Reflects on Experience

"I'm trying to focus on the positive, but it's hard
when I see all the people who call me a naive feminist," [Westbrook resident] Ty
MacDowell said. "It's balanced out by the people, especially strangers, saying
that day was really transformative to them." MacDowell organized the event to
promote her belief that a woman walking down the street topless should cause no
more of a stir than when a man takes off his shirt in public.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Westbrook Woman 'Enraged' By Male Oglers at Topless March (April 5, 2010)

Boston Globe: Go to Smiling Hill Farm

This environmentally-conscious, family-run farm
invites kids to its petting zoo, small playground, and ice cream shop. Despite
its 500-acre setting, Smiling Hill has a laid-back, intimate feel that works
well for young children. On a hot summer day, the farm’s homemade, all-natural
ice cream is a well-known Maine favorite. Kids can enjoy fun flavors like bubble
gum and root beer. "The kids get to experience a farm and I’m coming to realize
how precious that is," said Warren Knight, whose family owns and operates
Smiling Hill.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Smiling Hill Bottles As Wedding Decor (January 13, 2010)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Westbrook Politics: April 12- April 16, 2010

Tuesday, April 13
Walker Memorial Library Board of Regents meeting
Walker Memorial Library, 800 Main Street

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: April 4- April 10, 2010

High: 85F (April 8)
Low: 36F (April 10)
Precipitation: 0.50 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches
Previous Sunrise: 6:07a
Previous Sunset: 7:19p

High: 85F (April 8)
Low: 36F (April 2, April 10)
Precipitation: 0.50 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches

High: 85F (April 7)
Low: -1F (January 10)
Precipitation: 20.83 inches
Snowfall: 24.8 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Westbrook Grad Assumes Leadership Position at NASA

"We are good to go for launch." That was the
message Westbrook High School graduate Mike Nicholas delivered to NASA officials
a week ago, urging them to approve the launch of the space shuttle Discovery.
Officials agreed. Discovery lifted off early this morning from Cape Canaveral in
Florida. Nicholas, a 28-year-old who works for Boeing, is the lead engineer
overseeing the thermal protection system for Discovery.
- John C.L. Morgan

Habitat for Humanity Breaks New Ground in Westbrook

City officials gathered early this morning for a
ceremony launching the construction of three homes for Habitat for Humanity of
Greater Portland. Former Mayor Bruce Chuluda cut the ribbon to the site on
Bremen Street around 6:30 a.m., along with Mayor Colleen Hilton, City
Administrator Jerre Bryant, and City Councilors Michael Foley and Paul Emery.
Workers from Porter Panel and Truss in Portland began constructing the three
homes at 7 a.m. for Habitat's first of its kind initiative to build steel homes
for low-income families.
- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Idexx CEO: Rezone Industrial Park, Or We're Outta Here

Idexx Laboratories wants to build a $50 million
headquarters building and hire about 500 employees to help fill it, but will do
so in Westbrook only if the city adopts zoning that the owner of a neighboring
quarry says will shut down its operation. The quarry operator, Pike Industries,
"drives business out of the (industrial) park" where Idexx and Pike are located,
said Jonathan Ayers, chief executive officer of Idexx. "That's not a good place
to put an investment.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Idexx Announces Plans for Expansion (April 6, 2010)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Idexx Announces Plans for Expansion

IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. announced Tuesday that it
plans to develop a new corporate administrative facility in Westbrook. The $50
million project could bring 500 new jobs and possibly consolidate 400 existing
positions at One Riverfront Plaza and One Thomas Drive, both in
- John C.L. Morgan

City Grants Skybox Its Licenses

City councilors granted the Skybox Bar and Grill
the licenses it needs to keep operating after a public hearing Monday night.
Councilors voted 5-0 to grant the Skybox food and liquor licenses, with
conditions. David A. Lourie, the lawyer for Skybox owners Allen and Lynn Moore,
said the Moores have agreed to continue working with the police department and
to limit their hours of operation Monday through Friday. The council will review
the licenses in six months. "It's a step in the right direction," Lourie said
after the vote. "Hopefully, it will be the beginning of the end of this war that
is going on."
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: City Council to Vote on Skybox's License Tonight (April 5, 2010)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Native v. 'From Away': The Numbers

PPH columnist Charles Lawton:
The idea I find most intriguing is that northern Maine is "the real Maine," the
place where "real Mainers" live. Is there, I wondered, any demographic truth to
that belief? Is there, for instance, a significantly different percentage of
native-born Mainers in the rural parts of the state than in the urban parts?
Have more rural Mainers lived closer to home than urban Mainers? Is the
percentage of urban Mainers who have moved from away much larger than the
percentage of rural transplants?
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Cross-Pollination, Take Two (March 10, 2010)
Related: On Nativism (February 5, 2010)

City Council to Vote on Skybox's Licenses Tonight

The owners of the Skybox Bar and Grill in Westbrook
will get another chance tonight to get the licenses they were denied twice last
year. City councilors will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. at Westbrook High
School to decide the fate of the Skybox, a controversial bar on the corner of
Brown and North streets. Allen Moore, co-owner of the Skybox, said he doesn't
know what to expect at the meeting. Moore says he deserves the right to operate
his business like other business owners in the city. "My biggest fear is that
they might keep chirping the same propaganda, saying the Skybox is trouble,"
Moore said. "They have tried everything they possibly could to shut us
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Owners of Skybox Look to Secure Licenses Next Week (April 2, 2010)

Mayor Also Seeks Protection from Ex-Finance Chief's Son

[Eugene] Dunn, 24, was issued criminal trespass and cease-harassment notices
March 24, after the mayor's husband, Bill Hilton, reported that he was driving
back and forth in front of their home and squealing the car's tires, Roth said.
Dunn is prohibited from harassing the mayor and her family.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Former City Finance Director Banned from City Hall (April 1, 2010)

Westbrook Woman 'Enraged' By Male Oglers at Topless March

[Ty] MacDowell said she was surprised by the turnout of those interested less in
challenging societal convention than in seeing partially undressed women. "I'm
amazed," she said, and "enraged (at) the fact that there's a wall of men
watching." MacDowell said she understood that for women, going topless in public
"is not socially acceptable yet, and obviously there's going to be a reaction to
something that breaks the norm." But, she said, the picture-taking was
particularly upsetting.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Westbrook Woman Organizes Topless March (March 29, 2010)

Red Sox's Lackey Has More Westbrook Connections

[Boston Red Sox pitcher John] Lackey will find out there is a baseball tradition
in his new, extended family. Among [Lackey's wife] Krista's cousins are
Christian Hamilton, who plays for the University of Southern Maine, and Sean
Murphy, a Westbrook High standout who has already given St. John's University a
verbal commitment to play baseball there.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Westbrook Hurlers Look to Pitch Team Into States (March 25, 2010)
Related: Six Degrees of John Lackey (December 17, 2009)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Westbrook Politics: April 5- April 11, 2010

Monday, April 5
City Council meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

Tuesday, April 6
Planning Board meeting
Westbrook High School, Room 114

Saturday, April 10
Spring Street Quarry/Industrial Zone Steering Committee

City Hall, 2 York Street

- John C.L. Morgan

Westbrook Almanac: March 28- April 4, 2010

High: 62F (April 1)
Low: 36F (April 2)
Precipitation: 0.00 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches
Previous Sunrise: 6:19a
Previous Sunset: 7:11p

High: 62F (April 1)
Low: 36F (April 2)
Precipitation: 0.00 inches
Snowfall: 0.00 inches

High: 70F (March 20)
Low: -1F (January 10)
Precipitation: 20.33 inches
Snowfall: 24.8 inches

Source: National Weather Service

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Friday and All That Jazz

A portion of the Westbrook High School Jazz Ensemble 1's performance at last weekend's Maine State High School Jazz Festival.

Westbrook High's music department shined at the event, claiming at least four top-three finishes among the group categories (including a first-place finish for the ensemble depicted above) and ten individual awards.

- John C.L. Morgan

h/t: Youtuber rh929292

Related: TGIF (March 12, 2010)

Owners of Skybox Look to Secure Licenses Next Week

Westbrook Municipal Officers will decide Monday
whether to grant liquor and other licenses to the Skybox Bar and Grill. But an
attorney for the Brown Street tavern says it will take more than a favorable
vote to end the owners' legal battle with the city. Skybox owners Allen and Lynn
Moore sued the city last year after the Municipal Officers denied them food
service, poolroom and pinball licenses in an attempt to shut down the bar. Part
of the suit was an appeal of the officers' decision, which argued the elected
officials were biased.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Judge Rules City Councilor Was Biased in Skybox Vote (March 26, 2010)

City Restores Demoted Firefighter's Rank

Westbrook officials have restored the rank of Lt.
Donald Trafford of the city's Fire and Rescue Department. Trafford, who was
demoted from lieutenant to firefighter in December, will receive back pay for
the difference in rank, said Dan Walsh, a business agent for Teamsters Local
340, which represents firefighters and rescue workers. Trafford was demoted by
city officials after an investigator looked into allegations by a female
firefighter that Trafford had made her feel uncomfortable during a
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: State Board Reinstates Firefighter's Rank (June 16, 2009)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Former City Finance Director Banned from City Hall

Westbrook Mayor Colleen Hilton has filed a complaint for protection from
harassment against the city's former finance director, whom Hilton did not
reappoint at her inauguration in January. In her complaint, Hilton outlined what
she characterized as the disruptive behavior of former finance director Susan
Rossignol during the past few months since she was laid off from the city.
Westbrook police last week also issued a criminal trespass notice, banning
Rossignol from City Hall. "I feel threatened and frightened by her actions and
manner of speech," Hilton wrote in her complaint.
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Hilton Wastes No Time Shaking Things Up (January 4, 2010)

Chemical Contamination Dominates Residents' Concerns in Pike Debate

About a dozen Westbrook residents and business
owners met with Department of Environmental Protection officials Wednesday
night, asking if Pike Industries can continue to blast at its Spring Street
quarry, will people be exposed to a toxic chemical trichloroethylene? "Before we
were worried about dust, quality of life, property values. Now, I'm worried if
this chemical goes toward the quarry, if they're blasting it, is it going to go
in the air? Really, what's going to happen?" said Tim Bachelder, of
- John C.L. Morgan

Related: Panel Explores Ways to Mitigate Impacts of Pike's Blasting (March 25, 2010)
Related: Environmental Group: Pike's Blasting Will Unsettle Toxins (March 17, 2010)