Welcome to a journal of Westport Island, Maine. To locals, Westport Island is also known as “The Rock”. At this Rock Blog, you will find tidbits of island history, photographs, and items of interest. Comments, pictures, and personal histories from those with an interest in the Island are welcome.
Westport Island was originally called Jeremisquam and was a part of Edgecomb. It came to be known as Westport, because it was the west port of Edgecomb.
Islanders voter turnout was high
Once again, Westport Island voters turned out in large numbers to have their say in yesterday’s election for Governor, U.S. and State Senate and House seats and various county offices as well as a home care referendum and five bond issues.
On a local ballot, Islanders were also asked to affirm — and did so overwhelmingly — the draft Vision Statement of the Comprehensive Planning Committee. The Vision Statement was developed based on the answers of 295 respondents to a survey this summer requesting them to rank their priorities for future growth and development of the island. The Vision Statement was designed as a blueprint for completing an update to our Comprehensive Plan.
With 477 voters (final out-of-country and military voters are not yet tabulated), Westport Island’s voter turnout hovered around 72 percent, about 10 percent less than the record-breaking turnout for the 2016 presidential election.
New Westport Island Town Clerk Julie Casson did a great job managing her first solo election alongside 21 election volunteers all of whom made “Vote 2018” welcoming and successful. As evidenced by the town’s vote totals below, Westport Island’s voters pretty much voted in lock step with their state and county neighbors on the Federal/State/County ballot.
How Westport Islanders voted the contested races:
The overall winning candidates and referendum votes are noted in italics where results are available.
|Governor||Janet Mills (D)||241|
|Shawn Moody (R)||195|
|Teresa Hayes (I)||26|
|Alan Caron (I)||6|
|U.S. Senate||Eric Brakey (R)||176|
|Angus King (I)||267|
|Zak Ringelstein (D)||31|
|U.S. House District #1||Mark Holbrook (R)||194|
|Chellie Pingree (D)||252|
|Maine Senate District #13||Dana Dow (R)||230|
|Laura Fortman (D)||233|
|Maine House District #89||Stephanie Hawke (R)||227|
|Holly Stover (D)||234|
|District Attorney (District 6)||Natasha Irving (D)||232|
|Jonathan Liberman (R)||219|
|Question 1. Home Care||Yes||179|
|Question 2. Water Quality & Treatment Bond||Yes||258|
|Question 3. Transportation Infrastructure Bond||Yes||346|
|Question 4. Maine Universities Bond||Yes||236|
|Question 5. Maine Community Colleges Bond||Yes||306|
|Westport Island Question 1. Comprehensive Plan Vision Statement||Yes||414|
Yesterday or today: a privilege, an expression of ideals and a civic responsibility
Tomorrow’s election occasions a look back at elections past. Whether yesterday or today, election officials put considerable effort into making the voting process accessible and secure. The pictured 1898 State of Maine “Instructions to Voters” attest to a process not so different than today. One notable difference: the voters, election officials and candidates of today are both men and women… (thank you 19th amendment)…
1898: Give your name and ballot residence to the ballot Clerk
1898: Go alone to a ballot shelf and there unfold your ballot
1898: To vote a straight ticket, mark a cross X in the square over the party name at the top of the ticket.
2018: There is no square for a straight party ticket; vote for the candidate of your choice by filling in the oval to the right. To vote for a Write-in candidate, fill in the oval to the right of the Write-in space and write in the person’s name.
1898: To vote other than a straight party ticket, mark a cross X in the square over the party name, as if to vote a straight ticket, then below, in same column erase any name or names, and fill in the name or names of any candidate you choose in the space left for such purpose.
2018: Vote for the candidate of your choice by filling in the oval to the right. To vote for a Write-in candidate, fill in the oval to the right of the Write-in space and write in the person’s name. TO HAVE YOUR VOTE COUNT, DO NOT ERASE OR CROSS OUT ANY CHOICES — REQUEST A NEW BALLOT IF NEEDED.
1898: Mark a cross X in the square over Yes or No, where either of these words occur, as you desire to vote.
2018: To vote for a question, fill in the oval to the right of the YES or NO choice.
1898: Do not mark your ballot in any other way.
1898: If you spoil a ballot return it to the ballot clerk and he will give you another. You cannot have more than two extra ballots, or three in all.
2018: Ditto (but the ballot clerk may be a he or a she)
1898: You must mark your ballot in five minutes if other voters are waiting; you cannot remain within the rail more than ten minutes.
2018: There is no time limit.
1898: Before leaving the voting shelf, fold your ballot as it was folded when you received it and keep it so folded until you place it in the ballot box.
2018: There is no folding protocol; simply return all ballots that you were issued.
1898: Do not show anyone how you have marked your ballot.
1898: Go to the ballot box and give your name and residence to the warden or presiding election officers.
2018: Go to the ballot box and place all the ballots you were issued in the box.
1898: Put your folded ballot in the box with the Certificate of the Secretary of State uppermost and in sight.
2018: Just put your folded ballot(s) in the box.
1898: A voter who declares to the presiding officer or officers, (under oath if required), that he cannot read, or that he is physically unable to mark his ballot, shall, upon request, be assisted in the marking of his ballot by two of the election clerks, who shall be directed to so assist by the presiding election officer or officers.
2018: If you need help reading or marking the ballot, you may ask a relative or friend for assistance. The helper does not have to be a voter or old enough to vote. An election official can also help you read or mark a ballot. However, your employer or union official cannot help you vote.
For Westport Island election information, see the Town website.
The Westport Island History Committee and friends are happily celebrating a successful first historic homes tour on the island. About 150 residents and visitors turned out on Sunday, September 16, to view six historic Island homes. The Community Church was also open for viewing and the Town Hall was dressed up with historic homes’ displays, flowers and table arrangements to welcome visitors with a light — and reportedly superb — luncheon. Making it all happen, took a village…
The seven-member House Tour Committee Co-Chaired by Callie Connor and Judy Hughes worked for a year and a half to stage this event. Committee members each brought talents to the table that wed history and historic preservation backgrounds with creative, accomplished Westport Island event planners. Essential to this effort were the homeowners, their families, about 62 volunteers, the History Committee, the Westport Volunteer Fire Department and the tasteful entertaining flair of Louana Frois with the help of Simply Susie’s Catering and flower arranger Posies in the Pines.
Visitors came from near and far. They came to see neighbors’ lovely homes, to see how other groups conduct historic home tours, to see an ancestor’s home, to see the fine features and workmanship of old houses — or all of the above. Effusive reviews were passed on to homeowners and volunteers throughout the tour and in succeeding days…
“Westport Island’s Home Tour was a delight! My guests were blown away with your wonderful selection of historic homes, your excellent signage, and lovely lunch included with the ticket
1. Excellent signage
2. Super Historical Map intro to understand owners and how land was passed around
3. Friendly & knowledgeable house greeters
4. Wonderful luncheon
5. Excellent parking staff, no question about where or how to park…”
“We thought the tour was a grand success and that the prep you all did was very impressive, thorough and very interesting…Bravo to all!”
I am sure I speak for the many that attended your wonderful tour. The houses were a joy to see, the owners/docents generous with their time and cordial attitude. As far as the luncheon, the tables were artfully and beautifully appointed and certainly befitting good food! Lastly, the tour revealed the real Westport.
Since Callie Connor joined the History Committee in 2015, she had a vision for conducting a Historic Homes Tour on Westport Island. Callie, a Professor Emerita of Classics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a devotee of historic preservation. She serves on the boards of multiple North Carolina organizations dedicated to illuminating and increasing appreciation of history as told through everyday homes and architecture. Callie and her husband, Bob, are both academics with a passion for history that carries forward into daily living. They bought the historic Cornelius Tarbox, Jr. home on Westport Island and have been working to preserve the home and solve the mystery of who painted the folk art marine murals decorating the entryway since they arrived.
The History Committee had never sponsored an historic homes tour, but was “all in” once fellow member and Island entrepreneur Judy Hughes heeded the call to join Callie in defining and developing the event. The House Tour Committee was born and enlisted veteran Island event organizers Ann Springhorn, Carole Dunbar, Tania Hayes, Ruth Nelson and Sally Howe. Callie developed the criteria for selecting the homes that would be highlighted on the tour, focusing on those with both external historic character and interior historic features that had been preserved. Multiple homes fit the bill, but the first selections each offer a very interesting vantage point on Island history.
All participants learned something new and interesting from the research done by House Tour and History Committee members, from the homeowners and from the brochure which provided thumbnail histories of each house. To all those that contributed, thank you and take a bow…
Photo credits to: Mary Coventry, Jeff Tarbox, Archie Bonyun and Crissy Swartz.
and taking pause to appreciate long-standing service to our Westport Island community…
On Sunday, August 5, friends and family celebrated Richard DeVries’ 80th birthday at the Town Hall. This milestone presents a good opportunity to celebrate Richard and his many services to the Island.
Richard has been a cornerstone of services to Westport Island families. He has served as an RSU #12 School Board member since its startup – a challenging job that he takes very seriously. In this capacity, Richard has worked hard to improve the fairness of the funding formula impacting Westport Island residents and to bring pre-Kindergarten services to the district.
As owner of the “Ferry Landing” house on Ferry Road, Richard has taken on the stewardship of our town’s public boat landing and park — the Wright Landing — as a personal mission. He acted as the property manager to the town-owned Wright House while it was rented to a private resident — keeping the Selectmen informed of needed maintenance, overseeing repairs and often taking on the role of “handyman”. As Chair of the Wright Landing Committee, he and his committee oversee and manage the installation and removal of the landing’s docks in the spring and fall as well as the maintenance of the grounds and facilities. They also support the work of the Horticulture Committee to keep the property beautiful.
Although he’s not on the Board of Directors of Helping Hands, he is married to Linda Davis who is; and he is a reliable partner in responding to Islanders in need. Both of them regularly help Islanders in need with: rides to appointments, assistance with food and heating needs through Helping Hands, and help with a myriad of other personal crises. During extended power outages, he and Linda monitor those with medical equipment or special needs who may need a portable generator to keep medical equipment operating.
Presently, he also serves on the town’s Comprehensive Planning Committee — a monumental job for all involved. Members are involved in creating a “road map” for the future of the Island and its resources. The plan they are charged with creating analyzes Island data and resident input to make recommendations regarding growth, housing, land use, transportation and other community resources and services. If you haven’t yet provided your input, doing so now would be a good way to honor the work of Richard, his fellow committee members and the importance of volunteerism in keeping Westport Island’s engine running… (the deadline is August 30)
Happy birthday Richard and thank you for helping to make life on Westport Island “the way life should be.”
Spaghetti fundraiser helps to lend a hand…
Last Saturday, islanders had the opportunity to help a neighbor while enjoying dinner — and getting a break from fixing dinner at home in a hot, steamy summer kitchen.
Sue Anderson and friends organized a spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the Town Hall to help Ethan Langley with medical bills from a protracted illness due to liver failure. Sue and Ethan grew up on the island together; and according to her mother, Cheryl Anderson, Sue decided to organize the fundraiser because “that’s just the kind of person she is.” As a paramedic, Sue also sees the fallout from serious medical issues on a daily basis.
Between the dinner, a 50/50 raffle, a silent auction and T-shirt sales, more than $2,000 was raised to help the Langley family with medical bills and transportation costs. Although Ethan was unable to join his supporters, he called in from Leahy Clinic to express his appreciation and get a rousing “Hey Ethan!” from his home team.
Ethan has been living back at home with his mother, Diane Langley, as he weathers the ups and downs of awaiting a donor for a liver transplant. He has been unable to work since October when his health took a marked downturn.
Those who have suffered catastrophic illnesses know the secondary trauma of being buried by mountains of medical bills. Despite his trials, Ethan walked into the fire department this past April volunteering to do “whatever he could” because he wanted to give back. He’s made a valiant — and much appreciated — attempt to be a part of the fire department despite recurring and significant health challenges.
Ethan’s came home this week but will return to Boston Tuesday to find out his ranking on the donor list. Prayers are appreciated. Well wishes can be sent to him at 309 Main Road, Westport Island, ME 04578.
For those who were unable to attend the spaghetti fundraiser and who might like to add their support, there is an account set up for Ethan at Midcoast Federal Credit Union: Account No. 606113, 41 US-1, Edgecomb, ME 04556.
The Westport Volunteer Fire Department (WVFD) thanks all for a great evening
Once the annual WVFD Barbeque was underway, a turn of the head left and a turn of the head right from the entry of the Town Hall gave a view of parked cars as far as one could see. About 230 friends, neighbors and volunteers turned out to visit, enjoy a barbeque dinner and support the fire department. When just-retired Fire Chief Bob Mooney arrived to join the annual get-together, traffic was so busy, he couldn’t find a parking space and had to move on…
It was sad to miss Chief Mooney’s company, but affirming for new Fire Chief Stacey Hutchison that his first barbeque as Chief appeared to be an overwhelming success. When all expenses are paid, the WVFD will likely have raised $2,500 – $3,000 from dinner & dessert donations, T-Shirt sales and raffles. And surely there was a nod of appreciation for the sounds of the Old Grey Goose Band who stepped in to serenade us when the Back to Basics Blue Grass Band was otherwise engaged.
Putting together the annual barbeque is a monumental event for both the fire department and the Community Association. The fire department focuses on food, cooks, servers, set up and logistics. The Community Association focuses on promotion, dessert, entertainment and organizational details. Then
there are generous event sponsors who help to underwrite the event — Bath Savings, Norm’s Used Cars and John E. Bailey (whose donation honored the memory of WVFD Fire Chief Alan Anderson). This year also saw a new “guardian angel,” Liz, the innkeeper of the Squire Tarbox Inn who, along with the inn’s new owners, allowed us to piggyback our food order on the inn’s so the WVFD could benefit from wholesale pricing and reduce costs. Thank you all!!
…And — congratulations to Robert DeLong for walking away with $212 after winning the 50/50 raffle!
If you want to help with next year’s event, speak to Fire Chief Stacey Hutchison or one of the Co-Chairs of the Community Association, Drew Porter or Art Weber.
Puts on a spread, helps us connect and leads a community thank you!
For those who followed the Burma Shave signs leading onto the island last Saturday and accepted the invitation to attend the Westport Community Association’s annual “Meet & Greet,” life was good. The Meet & Greet provides an opportunity for year-round and summer residents to reconnect, sip wine, sample hors-d’oeuvres and trade laughs — and perhaps an occasional fish story.
This year also gave us an opportunity to thank Bill & Jill Cooney for years of service dedicated to preserving and caring for our historic Town Hall. Bill resigned this year as Chair of the Town Hall Committee where he has led fellow volunteers in a tireless effort to maintain and update the hall as well as to beautify the grounds of this historic property. Since the inception of the Town Hall Committee in 1993, the town has seen the Town Hall transformed from an historic structure in need of care to a well-preserved and proud symbol of our island’s history, as well as a functional gathering place for our community. Bill had been its chair from the beginning — February, 1993 — to April of this year.
Thank you Bill and support team Jill and fellow members of the Town Hall Committee. Of particular note, a special thanks to Bob Mongeon — carpenter, heating technician and jack of all trades — who also retired this last year. And thank you to the Community Association for the work, refreshments and thought put into this delightful event!
Selected photo credits to Laurie Jaramillo
Whether you call them hoe cakes, johnnycakes, flapjacks or pancakes — they were great. Dick Barker brought his secret recipe; and he, Jim Hatch and Brad Adler served up some “satisfyingly” fluffy rounds to flavor with your choice of real maple syrup, blueberries, chocolate chips, jam or all of the above…
Friends and neighbors came and lingered over coffee and the chance to connect after a long, cold winter. More than 100 people ate, served their neighbors, laughed and conversed…and, they raised more than $300. Great job Community Association! Nice way to kick off the season.
Professional collage courtesy of Laurie Jaramillo
October 30’s winds take down trees and bring darkness…
The storm of October 30 downed more than 60 trees on town roads alone — not counting the state portion of the Main Road and private roads — and downed scores more throughout the island. With about ten electrical poles broken, wires on the ground and some wires stretched by broken and uprooted trees and pulled off of houses, residents woke to no power, no cable, few landlines and spotty internet.
The good news: no one was hurt, neighbors are helping neighbors and Central Maine Power (CMP) did its initial assessment of damage on Monday evening — when its crews ensured one lane was “safely” open on the Main Road at Fox Run, 200 Main Road and the Squire Tarbox Inn where trees brought down the wires and blocked the roadway — proceed with caution. The bad news, we are at the bottom of the triage list for power restoration with no critical services and a small, residential-only population. CMP states we should have substantial power restoration by the end of the weekend. Crews will come in numbers to Lincoln County today; although they are not yet scheduled for the major work needed on Westport. Time Warner/Spectrum and Fairpoint will not be able to do restoration work until CMP restores its poles and lines.
A warming center is open daily until 8:30 pm at the Westport Volunteer Fire Department (WVFD) where residents can warm up, charge their electronic devices, take a shower, get water, use the microwave and kitchen facilities and connect. The WVFD’s landline is operational: 882-6806, or you can call the Fire Chief directly with questions: 460-0367.
Thanks to private citizens and D&G Cromwell, all roads are navigable. East Shore Road is open on both sides, but is still blocked in the 200 block. Although roadways are navigable, they are not necessarily safe. Be cautious of trees on wires, wires in the roadway and hanging branches.
You may see the island’s Emergency Management Assistance personnel out and about collecting photographs of damage. Lincoln County has also asked that we collect pictures of damages to private property. If you have photographs of damage to your private residences, structures or vehicles, please send them to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and provide any details that you can. The County is in the process of compiling documentation of damages for the state’s request for a Disaster Declaration.
Regardless of the power situation, we will have the State election at the Town Hall on Tuesday, November 7, from 8 am to 8 pm. Today is the last day to get a regular absentee ballot. If you need one, call the Town Clerk at 380-4476 and arrangements will be made to get you a ballot. Absentee ballots are only available after today for Special Circumstances. Call the Town Clerk if you have questions.
Taking note of local talent
If you missed the Westport Island Crafts Show on September 16, just a quick pitch to support our artisanal resources. There were 13 booths this year — seven of which showcased Island talent. Our “home-grown” crafters and artisans were: Ann Cole-Fairfield, Instant Comfort; Pam Shockley, PS Designs; Jill Cooney, Island Crafts; Sandy Besecker, A Little of This and a Little of That; Jeff Foss, Jeff’s Crafts; Steve Arsenault, Crossroads Coffee; and Libby Fairfield, Effing Illustrations. Refreshments were provided by Westport Island Chief Cook and Bottlewasher, Nita Greenleaf.
Instant Comfort specializes in hot/cold comfort packs designed to relieve stress or pain and cool neck ties to keep the exertion of running,
hiking and biking more comfortable. PS Designs provides fashions, pet toys and children’s cuddle toys in soft fleece. Island Crafts creates quality home decor and collectibles to seasonably decorate your home. A Little of This and a Little of That specializes in quilted items, including totes, gift bags and purses. Jeff’s Crafts repurposes vintage vinyl record centers for distinctive coasters. Crossroads Coffee roasts artisanal coffee blends on Main Road, Westport Island for coffee connoisseurs. And Effing Illustrations‘ Libby Fairfield pens and paints natural science illustrations and still life prints and cards.
Many of Westport Island’s crafters and artisans will be at the 2nd Annual Brunswick Arts & Crafts Show at Coastal Performance Center, 14 Thomas Point Rd. (Cook’s Corner) in Brunswick on October 21 and 22; and at the 24th Annual Made In Maine Christmas Craft Show at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham on November 18 and 19.
For those who want to support local crafts and businesses “on island”, stay tuned for the continued development of the town website which is planning a directory of your neighbors’ goods and services. And, on September 15, 2018, Westport Island Artisans Guild will celebrate 20 years — plan to be a part of the celebration.