Author Archives: westportisland

A 2017 Westport Island Halloween by Candlelight

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 wagnerhiggins11@gmail.com or townclerk@westportisland.us 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.

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Highlighting Westport Island Crafts and Goods

Taking note of local talent

Crossroads CoffeeIf 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,
happy craftershiking 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.

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A Beautiful Day for a Run, or Walk

Westport Island’s 13th Annual Shore Run

On Sunday, the sun shone on the 13th Annual Westport Island Shore Run 10K and 5K Fun Walk. The numbers of runners and walkers were the lowest ever (something to work on for next year), but the weather was simply perfect for a scenic outing with friends.

The 10K race by the numbers: Garret Bonney, Boston, took first place with a time of 47:25, a 7:38 pace. Leslie Couper, Falmouth, took the top women’s spot with a time of 50:52, an 8:12 pace. Nora Bradford was the top finishing Westport Islander with a time of 55:35, an 8:57 pace. And Top Dog, Besor, with handler Gail Reinertsen, Brunswick, finished with a time of 1:08:19.

The 5K fun walk by the numbers: there are no numbers, but it was a beautiful walk! Top Dog: Gracie, with her handler, Westport Island Town Office star Dedee Greenleaf-Hodgdon. Congratulations to all the finishers!

With the generosity of sponsors Wayfair; Maine Yankee; Sheepscot River Marine Service; Bath Savings Bank; Ames True Value Supply; Sharon Drake Real Estate; Newcastle Jeep, Chysler, Dodge; the Westport Island Brewing Company; Sparhawk Gear; Norm’s Used Cars; Wiscasset Ford, First Federal Savings, Hodgdon Yacht Services and the Hampton Inn of Bath, it’s estimated that over $1,000 was raised for the Westport Volunteer Fire Department.

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Photo credit: photo of Garret Bonney, Bib #20, by Rob Whitney

Westport Island Solar Eclipse

A brief shadow on a beautiful day

About 1:30 p.m., the light inside the house dimmed for about 20 minutes as with the shadows of passing clouds. An “instamatic” digital camera and a handheld welding mask gave a peek at the progression of the celestial crossing — more impressive with the eye than with the lens.

Not since June 8, 1918, has there been a coast-to-coast solar eclipse. And, this one just nipped the northeast with the moon blocking less than 60% of the sun’s face. Although impressive as a partial eclipse, Maine has a date with a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024 — leaving plenty of time to save up for the proper eyewear and camera equipment…

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Another Successful Summer Barbeque

Shows “the love” for the Westport Volunteer Fire Department (WVFD)

Cloudy skies and a passing squall gave way to beautiful weather for a summer’s eve chicken barbeque on Saturday. The annual barbeque is the Westport Volunteer Fire Department’s flagship fundraiser event. In partnership with the Westport Community Association, the Fire Department hosted a great spread with entertainment from the Back to Basics Bluegrass Band. More than 200 Westport Islanders turned out to enjoy the evening and support their emergency responders.

Almost $3,000 was raised from dinner donations, a 50/50 raffle, fire department T-shirt and hat sales and the “Dunk the Chief” tank. A San Franciso firefighter renting a house on the island stopped by just to drop a donation in the fire boot, and several said it was the “best barbeque ever.” Thanks to all for making it a great evening…

A Westport Island House Featured in a Digital Exhibit

The Maine Historical Society’s digital library features the Cornelius Tarbox, Jr. House

Cornelius Tarbox, Jr. HouseThe Maine Historical Society’s digital library, the Maine Memory Network (MMN), is featuring a digital exhibit that highlights a Westport Island treasure, the Cornelius Tarbox, Jr. House. As many long time islanders know, the entry hallway of the house is decorated with a panorama of marine murals that have captured the imagination of owners and visitors past and present. Current owners Bob and Callie Connor have become guardian angels of the murals.

West hallway mural with three masted schooner headed to a lighthouseThe Connors have invested in preserving the murals, and they have become avid “art history detectives” intent on identifying the artist who left his, or her, mark on Westport Island. Since purchasing the house in 2013, the Connors have educated themselves on 19th century folk and marine muralists working in this area. They have networked with and invited experts on the works of famed Maine muralists Rufus Porter; his nephew, Jonathan Poor; and others working in a similar school of painting to view the murals. Through their research, the Connors have determined that a mural in the Five Islands Baptist Church in Georgetown is by the same artist.

One day, the Connors hope to identify their home’s muralist. Ideally, the exhibit at MMN will bring the story of the murals before more history detectives and elicit more clues that may help to solve this muralist whodunit.

See the MMN exhibit: Mural Mystery in Westport Island’s Cornelius Tarbox, Jr. House

Westport Island’s February Blizzard

Had both upsides and downsides…

Depending where you live on the island, tree buffering and drifting, Islanders reported from 23.5 inches to 3 feet of snow when the first blizzard of 2017 subsided on February 13. When life was back to normal, historic island landmarks — the Town Hall, the Community Church and the Baptist Church, as well as the Town Office, looked like wintry greeting card images.

fire department's caved in portable garageThe Westport Volunteer Fire Department’s hard-bottom inflatable boat just looked buried, and now it looks homeless.

The boat lost its home in February’s snow deluge. Snow accumulation caved in the boat’s portable garage. Only the frame of the garage still stands, so the boat is now exposed to the elements. Space is too limited inside the fire department bays to move the boat inside, and the plastic tarp has proven to be an inadequate solution.

There would be space inside the garage if it weren’t for “historic” Engine 1, which also needs to be inside. Engine 1 is no longer a regular, functioning member of the fire department; it is used only for parades and ceremonial events. …But, it is a sentimental favorite of many islanders, because it is the first fire truck purchased brand new for the island back in 1963.

Wanted: Covered parking for Engine 1

The fire department is seeking assistance from an island resident who might have unused space in a barn or garage to park Engine 1. The Engine is 23′ long, 7’9″ wide and 8’4″ high. If you can help the fire department by providing a temporary or ongoing shelter, please call Fire Chief Bob Mooney at 460-0367.

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Westport’s WWII Veteran Vera Cleaves’ Last Hurrah

Vera is celebrated in the Maine Historical Society’s Veteran’s Voices exhibit

On February 2, about 160 people turned out for the opening of the Maine Historical Society’s Veterans’ Voices exhibit. The exhibit highlighted first-person stories of 10 Maine veterans from World War II to Afghanistan — one of whom was Westport Island’s 102-year old WWII veteran Vera Cleaves.

Unfortunately, Vera died on January 23, about one and one-half weeks before she was to be honored at the exhibit’s opening. At the opening reception, Vera was also to receive medals from the State of Maine for her service in the armed forces and as a veteran of World War II. Her nephew, Brad Cleaves, and his wife, Patty Latham, received the medals and certificates on Vera’s behalf from Adria Horn, Director of Maine Veterans’ Services. They were sensitive to Vera’s pride in her military service and made attendance at the opening a priority to accept Vera’s honors on behalf of the family.

With an introduction from Brenda Bonyun, Tilly Laskey from the Maine Historical Society visited and interviewed Vera in December. Vera reviewed and edited the narrative from the 2-hour interview. She was honored and grateful to the Maine Historical Society for commemorating her WWII service. My last image of Vera was seeing her smile as she looked at the poster for the upcoming exhibit. Vera was looking forward to attending the opening on February 2 and speaking with fellow veterans. She died knowing her story will be remembered.

Read Vera’s story. The exhibit will run at the Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress Street, Portland through April 29.

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Westport Islanders Splash into the New Year

Taking the Penguin Plunge into Linekin Bay

Westport Islanders Edward and Lydia Kitfield have celebrated New Year’s Day since the early 2000’s by participating in the Boothbay Region YMCA’s Penguin Plunge. The chilly New Year’s benefit “plunge” into Linekin Bay from the public boat ramp on Murray Hill Road benefits the YMCA’s swimming program for second graders.

Lydia said that she and her husband were once part of a medical team on an excursion to Antarctica. They visited Deception Island which is home to a volcano and several crater bays. Lydia and Edward swam on Deception Island, and figured if they could swim in Antarctica, why not Maine. The two also take “dips” into the frigid waters of Montsweag Bay near their home from time to time… Wow!

May we all have the spirit and sense of adventure in 2017 shared by the Kitfields on this beautiful New Year’s Day!

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Memories of an Island Christmas

Snapshots of a Westport Community Association event

As we draw the curtains on this Christmas season, a quick peek back at the Westport Community Association’s Island Christmas Program…

Thanks to Emily Small, Flutter Focus Photography, we have some photos to memorialize neighbors being neighbors: singing Christmas carols in the church and lighting the first community Christmas tree in many years — perhaps a new annual tradition. Join with your neighbors to be a part of next year’s celebration.

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