Monthly Archives: March 2016
Celebrating 79 years; 61 years on Westport…
Born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts and raised down the road in Dresden Mills, Althea Fitch came to Westport when she married Jud Cromwell in 1955. She’s been here ever since.
In that time, Althea has been an active participant in island life. Her proudest achievement was raising three sons — Thomas, Michael and Brian — largely on her own. And, as any one of them would tell you, the three of them were a handful. They have great admiration and love for their mom. To show it, they worked with friends and family to organize a surprise celebration to let her “feel the love” for all she is and has done.
Althea was a charter member of the Wiscasset Ambulance Service — serving Westport as an EMT in the 1970’s. In the 1990’s, she ran the Pumpkin Press with a partner. The Pumpkin Press was an antique letterpress shop on the island. Its published works included a reprint of another islander’s poetry — Henry Swanton’s 1922 “The Coast of Maine and Other Verses” and a historical booklet, The Wiscasset Ships, a remembrance of the Hesper and the Luther Little.
When oral historian Susan Bowditch interviewed Althea, two things struck her — one expected: “what you see is what you get” — she is firm in her opinions and frank. …Another was less expected: Althea loves to dance… Lessons started as a young child continued until she was 17. Dance is her passion — her favorite is tap dancing. To this day, you might get a glimpse of her dancing to Lawrence Welk on a Saturday night as you pass by her house.
As the wife and mother of lobstermen, Althea is “one” with cruising the island’s waters. She loves sitting in the back of Mike’s lobster boat and feeding the seagulls — not so good for his lobstering business, because the seagulls get more bait than the bait bags. Inside pastimes include sewing, needlepoint, knitting and crocheting — valuable skills when she was a member of Westport Willing Workers. The Willing Workers, active from the 1960’s to the 1980’s, organized fundraising dinners and made crafts and quilts for raffles to benefit the town. They cleaned the Town Hall (including the outhouses), bought the first tables and planted the shrubs at the Town Hall. Later, she was a contributor to the 2011 Westport Island quilt that was designed and assembled by 18 island women to create a traditional fabric narrative of life on Westport. She created “The Lincoln County Flag” square.
If you’ve fallen on hard times and need a hand from Helping Hands’ Island Food Pantry, you’ve likely met or spoken to Althea who is the neighbor with a key and commitment to helping Island families. And, if you are more fortunate and have donated to Helping Hands, the carefully written thank you notes initialed “AC” come from Althea.
Happy Birthday Althea!
The osprey nest will return next week if the weather is favorable
For those of you who enjoy watching Ma and Pa Osprey keep house on the Island from spring through summer — they will have a home to return to this spring.
As many of you noticed beginning on Tuesday, the osprey nest at the head of the Island was gone. One of the first alerts came as a text:
“Crisis on Westport…the osprey nest is gone…” Then, there were phone calls and emails — “the nest is gone, will it be back?” “Where has our osprey nest gone?” Two residents offered to sign a petition to Central Maine Power (CMP) Company to bring the nest back. Westport’s osprey are iconic — witness Erin Bailey’s square for the 2011 Town Quilt: “Mr. & Mrs. Osprey” (pictured above).
Based on past discussions with a CMP lineman from the Wiscasset field station, workers are trained on state and federal laws protecting the osprey and work with the the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife to protect the birds and their nests where possible. According to a state biologist, nests can be moved as long as there are no eggs or baby chicks in them.
Janet Dyer, from CMP’s Environmental Department, said they are planning on putting up a new platform next week, weather permitting. The nest was replaced because it was in bad shape and rotting — which presents a risk to both the birds and the power lines. The platform will be going on the new pole that was put up last fall, so the nest will no longer be on the transmission pole where falling sticks and debris from the nest pose a potential risk of fire and power outages. Dyer said CMP realizes it has a limited timeline to work within, because the birds are usually here by the first of April; and the mild weather may mean an earlier arrival. So, stay tuned for nest construction activity and a, hopefully, happy housewarming.
What you need to know…
If Westport Island is any indication of voter interest in the Maine presidential caucuses this weekend, there is a lot of interest.
Westport Island’s caucuses are scheduled as follows:
The Republican caucus will be a countywide caucus on Saturday, March 5, 11 a.m. at Wiscasset High School, 272 Gardiner Road, Wiscasset.
The Democratic caucus will be on Sunday, March 6, 1 p.m. at Wiscasset Elementary School, 83 Federal Street, Wiscasset.
One hour before each caucus starts — beginning at 10 a.m. at Saturday’s Republican caucus; and beginning at noon at Sunday’s Democratic caucus — Town Clerks/Registrars are on site to take new voter registrations and enrollment changes for unenrolled or “undeclared” voters. An unenrolled voter may enroll in a party with the Town Clerk/Registrar at the caucus and is eligible to participate immediately. (However, a voter declared Republican or Democrat who elects to change their party may not participate in party caucuses or other party activities for 15 days.)
Voters may also come into the town office during business hours to register to vote or to change from unenrolled to a declared party: Tuesdays, noon to 7 p.m., and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m..
For questions about the caucus schedules, Republicans may call Stuart Smith, President, Lincoln County Republican Committee, (800) 380-6831; and Democrats may call April Thibodeau, Convener for Westport Island, 756-3691