Friday, April 27, 2012

Group Promoting Lower Taxes Forms in City

An organized group of Westbrook residents is
looking over the shoulders of city and school officials throughout this year’s
budget season.Westbrook Taxpayers United, boasting about 30 members, has been a
vocal presence during the budget process.
- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

City's Surplus Could Offset School Department's Deficits

The school department ended fiscal 2011 more than
$760,000 in debt. But because the city finished the fiscal year ending last June
with a $9 million surplus the school department could get a bailout. The city
administration is recommending that the City Council use some of that surplus to
erase the school department's debt, which has accumulated over a couple years,
said City Administrator Jerre Bryant.
- John C.L. Morgan

Monday, April 23, 2012

High School to Host Community Forum on Drug Use Prevention

The forum will feature a panel made up of
[Westbrook High School's substance abuse counselor Bruce] Dyer, Westbrook Public
Safety Director Mike Pardue, District Court Judge Keith Powers, representatives
from the Westbrook schools and Westbrook High School graduate Kyle Shangraw, a
member of the class of 2005, who will be sharing his story about his struggles
with substance abuse.
- John C.L. Morgan

Idexx Posts Strong First Quarter, Wins State Award

The revenue growth was driven by higher sales of
laboratory diagnostic and consulting services in the companion animal-- or pet--
group, which contributes most of Idexx's sales. Idexx said it added customers
with a geographical expansion.
Six Maine businesses, including two in Greater
Portland, have won Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence.The seven-year
old program is administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
The awards were presented on Thursday by Gov. LePage and Maine DEP Commissioner
Patricia Aho in a ceremony at Jotul North America’s headquarters in
- John C.L. Morgan

PPH: Dancing Elephant 'Like Heaven on Earth'

Overcoming her prejudice against Westbrook,* Press Herald food reviewer Shonna Milliken Humphrey has good things to say about Dancing Elephant:
And that's when the magic happened. Ganesh-like,
all obstacles were removed to reveal a cup of spicy-sweet chai tea, steeped and
lovely, and somehow in the space of wondering where to look and what to focus
on, I was served some of the finest Indian food in my history of eating Indian
- John C.L. Morgan

* Exhibit A: "When an Indian restaurant opens in Westbrook, it is equal parts hopeful and wistful."

* Exhibit B: "[T]he 'I love Indian food!' enthusiasm tangles with 'But it's Westbrook' suspicion, and the result is confusion."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Next Stop for School Budget: City Council

The council is scheduled to hold its first
discussion and a preliminary vote on the combined city and school budget at a
meeting in Westbrook High School’s room 114 on May 7 at 7 p.m. If the budget
passes the preliminary vote, the council will hold a final budget vote on May
- John C.L. Morgan

Public Comment Kerfuffle Leads to Critical Ad, Review of Policy


The debate started at an April 2 City Council meeting, when James
Tranchemontagne, who owns The Frog and Turtle and is a member of the group
Westbrook Taxpayers United, attempted to give a speech during the first of two
public comment periods on the council’s agenda on his frustration with the
city’s tax burden on home and business owners. Tranchemontagne initially spoke
for six minutes, twice the allotted time allowed for residents to speak during
the open comment period, before City Council President Brendan Rielly
interrupted him to remind him about the time limit (which is announced before
each public comment period at council meetings) and asked him to wrap up his
Video footage from the April 2 City Council meeting can be seen here. Tranchemontagne begins his comments at the 10:35 mark, and the testy exchange between he and Rielly described in the article begins at the 15:35 mark.

- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

News Fit to Post: April 12

City Council to take another look at home fire sprinkler ordinance. (April 12)

City celebrates completed renovations to the exterior of Walker Memorial Library. (April 12)

School Board and City agree to a revamped policy regarding school resource officers. (April 12)

- John C.L. Morgan

Friday, April 6, 2012

School Board Restores Some Positions in School Budget

Westbrook school officials have put nine positions
back into the department's 2012-13 budget, which initially called for a net
reduction of 21 full- and part-time jobs. Three high school teachers, a school
resource officer and a guidance counselor are among the positions that are no
longer targeted for cuts in the $31 million budget, which the School Committee
unanimously supported Wednesday night. The committee will take its final vote
April 11 on the budget, which now calls for the elimination of 26 positions,
including 10 full-time teachers, and the addition of 14 positions, including two
assistant principals.
- John C.L. Morgan

Full disclosure: I teach at Westbrook High School.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Casella Closure in Biddeford Could Impact Westbrook

A newly revealed plan to finally close the
controversial Maine Energy Recovery Co. trash incinerator in Biddeford could
have big repercussions in Westbrook--construction of a long-delayed transfer
facility on land owned by Casella Waste Systems.
- John C.L. Morgan

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Idexx Breaks Ground on New Headquarters

The 108,000-square-foot administrative building,
which will hold offices for 300 employees, is the first half of a planned $60
million expansion, announced in July.The timing of the second phase, a
100,000-square-foot building for 400 employees, will depend on the continued
growth of the company, said facilities manager Dick Daigle."If we continue to
grow at the rate we're growing now, it's going to be fairly quickly," he
- John C.L. Morgan

Monday, April 2, 2012

Westbrook Churches Join Forces to Feed Hungry

More than 60 volunteers from four Westbrook
churches and other groups set up assembly lines in the basement of the Trinity
Lutheran Church to put together and pack 10,000 meals through Outreach Inc.'s
Kids Care program. Outreach Inc. is an Iowa organization that works to provide
food, clean water and education for needy children around the world.
- John C.L. Morgan