Blog Archives

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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Islanders Finish 1st and 2nd

At the 12th Annual Westport Island Shore Run 10K Road Race

Dan Bradford sprinted to the finish line of the Westport Island Shore Run last Sunday with a winning time of 40:53. Then, it was time to recover from the last uphill climb on West Shore Road, high humidity and the beating sun. Chase Hughes, a senior at Maine Maritime Academy and son of a Westport Volunteer Firefighter, finished second. Lisa O’Neill of Boston was the first place female finisher.

There was a light turnout at the race this year — which in the hours before the race start looked like it may be a rainy run — but the rain clouds turned into hot sun and a beautiful day on a beautiful course.

Thanks to the participants and sponsors: Wiscasset Ford; Maine Yankee, Hodgdon Yacht Services; Sheepscot River Marine Services; Ames True Value Supply; Sharon Drake Real Estate; Bath Savings Bank; First Federal Savings; the Westport Island Brewing Company; Newcastle Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge; the Westport Island Community Association; and Norm’s Used Cars, it appears that the race generated over $1,000 for the Westport Volunteer Fire Department coffers.

A second pair of Islanders, Mary Ellen Barnes and Carol Norris, were 1st and 2nd place finishers in the Fun Walk in this year’s field of two — go walkers! …Wait until next year…

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A Tragic Day on the Island

Neighbors lose their home…

house on fireNone of us knows when we wake up in the morning when a day may be life altering. Today was such a day for neighbors Stan Lane and Norma Dreyfus. After an overnight with the grandchildren, a trip back home was interrupted by a page out for the Westport Volunteer Fire Department — Stan was carrying his pager as a member of the department. The pager tone was followed by a dispatcher’s voice announcing a structure fire and the address. The address was theirs.

Disbelief is an understatement. Thankfully, no one was home, so no one was hurt. But records, treasures and momentos of a life and family are gone. All the accessories of everyday living are gone — favorite clothing, favorite tools and favorite chair. Numbing.

At this point, the cause is unknown. Most days, it’s nice not to have neighbors too close; other times, it’s not. The first calls to 911 came around 2:15 p.m. after the fire was visible above the trees to those driving onto the island. The winds off the water on this balmy day fed the fire. Westport Volunteer Fire Department and mutual aid partners Wiscasset, Edgecomb, Alna, Dresden, Boothbay, Newcastle and Woolwich provided firefighters, hours of labor, and tanks with 2,000 gallons of water to help contain the fire. Unfortunately, the house was a total loss.

Tonight, take stock of your blessings and say a prayer for Norma and Stanley.

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Westport Volunteer Fire Department Invites You

To the annual chicken barbeque to celebrate a year of hard work and training successes

Westport Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Jason Abbott accepts state flag from State Sen. Chris JohnsonIt’s been a year of hard work for the Westport Volunteer Fire Department. Last winter, six firefighters attended the six-week Lincoln County Fire Academy Basic Firefighter school. They are now certified for interior structure attacks and any operations necessary at a firefighting scene. James Richardson earned the Lincoln County Fire Chiefs Association’s Newman Award at this school for excelling at the academy classes and exhibiting leadership and initiative.Firefighters Jason Abbott and James Richardson talking to Ruth Nelson at the Town Meeting

Two more fire volunteers completed EMS (Emergency Medical Services) training, which now gives the department seven licensed Emergency Medical Technicians along with one certified first responder.

And last weekend, nine of the Volunteer Fire Department members attended a three-day pump operations training conducted by Lt. Thomas St. Pierre from The Topsham Fire & Rescue Department.

Now, it’s time to take a break from training — and visit with neighbors. Members of the Fire Department will be serving up a Class A Chicken Barbeque while tapping their feet to the music of the Back to Basics Bluegrass Band.

Saturday, July 25, is the Fire Department’s annual fundraiser and a chance to show appreciation for the time and commitment of our fire and rescue volunteers. Dinner will be served starting at 5:30. The menu is barbequed chicken (or hot dogs, if you prefer), corn, beans, rolls, beverages and scrumptious desserts courtesy of the Westport Community Association. There is no set fee, give what you can or feel like donating for a night of good food, good fun and neighborliness.

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2014: The Year on Westport Island

A look back…

Like every other year, 2014 had its ups and downs – a capsule of time in a history that marches on. A few remembrances as we head into 2015…

On a caring note: We remember those we lost this year: Philip Gesner, Neil Greenleaf, Butch Morton, John Nelson, and Leroy Olson. We honor their contributions and extend our thoughts to family members…

On a civic note: Voters opted to stay in Sheepscot Valley RSU #12 and opted to dismiss the Budget Committee. For the most part, Islanders voted with the rest of the state in November, re-electing Governor LePage, U.S. Senator Susan Collins and U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree. And, we welcomed the newly formed Horticulture Committee which has taken responsibility for the beautification of the Wright Landing.

On a community service note: Fire Department volunteers had a busy year: responding to medical calls, extinguishing a chimney and brush fires, providing medical assessment and traffic control for multiple car accidents, performing a water rescue, and — as always — community service.

On a climatic note: Our most talked about weather event this year was Thanksgiving – three days without power Island-wide – and lots of creative approaches to the “traditional” turkey dinner for those without generators…

On a contemplative note: Although our harbingers of the summer season, the osprey, came and went as is nature’s plan — the turkeys, raccoons and coyotes may be staging a takeover….

We will miss and extend best wishes to Islanders who moved away — and we thank those who had served in positions to better the Island: Chris Fabian, Angie Calvo, Art Ballard, Curt Downer and Carol Way.

On a congratulatory note: We had a banner year of weddings. Congratulations to all who took their vows on Westport. A Westport Islander, Chase Hughes, took home the gold at the 10K Island Shore Run for the first time in recent years. Selectmen honored Treasurer and Tax Collector, Susan Partelow, with a Spirit of America award to thank her for her service as they began preparations for her retirement. And departing History Committee Chair Mary Ellen Barnes’ transition to a regular member was marked with a celebration of her contributions as a founding member of the History Committee.

On a celebratory note: Westport Volunteer Firefighter Paul Bonyun once again completed February’s grueling Fight for Air stair climb in Boston. And Westport Volunteer Firefighters, Jason Abbott and Stacey Hutchinson, completed Firefighter I & II training, earning state certification — as well as promotions to Deputy Chief and Captain, respectively. Vera Cleaves — a World War II vet — celebrated her 100th birthday and made the cover of our annual report. And, Squam Creek reopened to clamming after almost 15 years!

As usual, The Community Association pulled us together for some fun and laughs, including a square dance reminiscent of days past. We laughed with ventriloquist Bert Prater and his pal, “Roadkill” while they poked fun and had good-natured audience members simulating puppets on stage while dancing to the tune, “I’m a little teapot.” The summer barbeque added entertainment for children this year; the Island Christmas Program starred young talent that wowed; and Santa surprised holiday visitors to the Town Office Building. Nita Greenleaf organized a Valentine’s Day Dinner for cupids and their valentines.

And, speaking of silver linings, when a resident parked a tad “too close” to the Town Office Building, we learned the wall was crumbling from dry rot. All has been repaired and is better now than before…. Which leaves us with a possible New Year’s Resolution…

It might be time to take stock and invest a little TLC in what we have.

Happy New Year!

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Not a Good Night for a Swim on Westport Island

An outing for the Westport Volunteer Fire Department rescue boat

Westport Volunteer Fire rescue boat finds man in the waterWhat began around noon as a startling Main Road encounter for a Westport Island woman became a call to the Sheriff’s Department and the Westport Fire Department regarding “a man in his 20’s engaged in suspicious activity in the vicinity of the Squire Tarbox Inn.” Both agencies joined in a search for the man who fled into the woods when he sighted Westport Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief Jason Abbott.

When the Sheriff’s Department brought a search dog into the area, they released fire department volunteers who had set up an initial search perimeter. Soon after, the canine unit tracked their man to Chase Drive. Rather than engage in friendly conversation, the man jumped into chilly Heal Cove to swim to chillier water. Sheriff’s officers then called for the Westport Fire Department’s rescue boat.

Jason Abbott donned the cold water rescue suit while fellow firefighters got the rescue boat into the water and directed Wiscasset Ambulance into the scene to ready for a hypothermia run. Although the swimmer was resistant to being rescued — despite an outside temperature of about 33 degrees and water temperature of about 43 degrees — he was ultimately persuaded. Thanks to the Sheriff’s Department, Westport Volunteer Fire Department, and Wiscasset Ambulance, the situation ended before complete nightfall, and Westport Islanders can sleep comfortably tonight.

Tonight was Westport Volunteer Fire Department’s first major incident since Jason Abbott was appointed Deputy Chief and Stacey Hutchison was appointed Captain. And, it was newcomer, Libby Fairfield’s first call — with support team Roger Quandt, James Richardson, Earl Grant, Stan Lane, and Roger Higgins. Great job all!

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Westport Island Run Day

And, a Westport Islander takes home the “gold”

overall winner shows off his medalYesterday was a beautiful day in the neighborhood for the 10th Annual Westport Island Shore Run. And, it was a great day for Westport Island college sophomore, Chase Hughes, who “took home the gold.” He ran first place overall with a winning time of 40:53 minutes — besting last year’s first place winner.

Trying to run a race on Westport Island is no small feat where the temptation is to stop and smell the occasional rose, take in the view from an Adirondack chair on Heal’s Cove, check out the “oyster fields” in Squam Creek, say “hello” to the fishermen and let the dog take a paddle here and there along the shoreline…

All in all, a good day. According to Race Director Rob Whitney, the Fire Department will take in about $1,300 from the run; and the department sold another $200 or so in T-shirts and hats… See the complete race results.

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Westport Fire Department Summer BBQ

Brings neighbors together; Inspires junior firefighters…

Westport Volunteer Fire Department in front of rescue vehicle

Thank you!

This year’s barbeque raised more than $1,500 for the Westport Volunteer Fire Department and allowed at least a dozen junior firefighters to earn their “Fire Chief” hats. The weather, the music and the company made for a great summer evening.

Word on the street from last year had it that the Summer Barbeque was kind of boring for kids. So this year, there was a scavenger hunt and some firefighting to do. Those that could extinguish a simulated fire flaming from four windows of a fireman’s training house earned their Fire Chief’s hat and bragging rights. Few junior firefighters could resist the opportunity to squirt water from a high pressure fire extinguisher and put out a fire. Who could?

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Two Westport Island Firefighters Earn State Certification

Jason Abbott and Stacey Hutchison, graduated on Sunday, July 13, from the Tri County Firefighter Academy One and Two Programs in a ceremony at the Orion Performing Arts Center in Topsham. Jason also earned top honors as class valedictorian and delivered the class address.

Graduates came from 11 departments spanning Yarmouth to Westport Island and west. They completed classroom work and practical exercises encompassing firefighting resources and equipment; survival; live fire events; search and rescue; incident command and hazardous materials. The program concluded with State written and practical exams.

Jason and Stacey, who both have full-time jobs and families, committed over 300 hours on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as long Saturdays, for almost six months to fulfill the requirements to become state certified firefighters for the Island. Westport’s Fire Department, like many local departments, is an unpaid all-volunteer team of first responders for medical, fire and hazmat incidents.

On behalf of his classmates, Jason asked, “Why did we put ourselves through this?” And, continued…“I believe it’s because we are all here with one basic goal: to help people, whether its people in our own hometown, or its helping people while we’re working for some full-time department somewhere. Our goal is to help people in some of their greatest times of need. We have all heard this call, and we have all answered.”

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Westport Volunteer Fire Department Snuffs Chimney Fire

What should have been just another Wednesday night meeting for the Westport Volunteer Fire Department ended up being a full dress exercise. A chimney fire at 325 Main Road interrupted the supper hour and kept firefighters busy for an hour or two on a wintery cold evening.

Volunteer firefighters Jason Abbott and Stacey Hutchison got to put their Basic Firefighter training to good use. They are both currently enrolled in training that will last until June for two nights and one weekend day each week to complete state certification coursework. The training is a huge after-hours commitment that they put to good use today. They were the point men up on the roof to extinguish a chimney fire that was limited to smoke and minor property damage. No one was hurt.

Thank you to a great turnout from the Westport Volunteer Fire Department and to Wiscasset Fire Department for mutual aid assistance with a second tanker truck.

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